Former Liverpool and Tottenham striker Paul Walsh has revealed how his alcohol problem was so bad he could not make training on a Monday and was was “drunk-driving” everywhere.
Walsh, whose problems began in his late teens, said during his time at Spurs he used drink as a “solution” to his problems but it resulted in him feeling suicidal after a physical altercation with his son in which he knocked his mother to the floor.
“There was a drink culture in football at that time, so it was allowed, if you like,” Walsh, who has been in recovery for four and a half years, told the Priory’s Sporting Highs and Lows podcast.
“I had a period at Spurs where I drunk-drove all over the place, I couldn’t go to training on a Monday.
“I was fighting with people, falling out with people…masking my poor performance with girls and nights out.
“All my insecurities and fears, when I had a few beers, went out the window. Drink was a solution to me, it became a solution right the way through.
“I couldn’t sleep after a game, so I used to drink my head to sleep.”
The issue came to a head at his father’s 80th birthday party.
“As we stood outside the restaurant I turned round and smashed my son in the face. We had a scuffle, knocked my mum over,” he added.
“The next day when I got my head off the pillow I felt suicidal. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.”
He sought help from alcoholics anonymous and has been volunteering to help others with similar struggles at the Priory Manor Clinic in Southampton for the past three years.
“I have to do a lot of meetings, I still do at least five a week,” said Walsh, who made more than 500 professional appearances – more than 200 of which came for Liverpool and Tottenham – scored over 100 goals and won five England caps during a 17-year career in which he also played for Luton, Portsmouth, QPR, Manchester City and Charlton.
“I constantly have to say the same things to remind this thick head what it’s like if it’s left alone untreated.”