Steven Caulker came close to suicide amid battle with depression

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Queens Park Rangers defender Steven Caulker has revealed how depression led him to the brink of suicide.

The 25-year-old has spent time in rehab to battle his drinking and gambling addictions which have threatened to end his playing career.

In an interview with the Guardian, Caulker reveals spiralling drinking and gambling addictions led him to contemplate suicide in recent years.

I've sat here for years hating myself and never understood why I couldn't just be like everyone else.

This year was almost the end. I felt for large periods there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

I'd had one last gamble and lost a hell of a lot of money in December. A last blowout.

It was at that point I finally accepted I could not win. I contemplated suicide a lot in that period. A dark time. There was no escape, no way out, other than to "leave".

When a person finds themselves in this state, the one thing we would all hope they do is seek help, but the most common advice he was given was to basically play through it.

At Southampton I realised, mentally, I was gone. I wasn't playing, my career was going nowhere and I had to reach out to someone. The doctor there tried to help me but others were just telling me to go out on the pitch and "express myself".

There was no understanding as to what was happening in my head.'I know they'd brought me in to do a job and they weren't there to be babysitters.

Football does not deal well with mental illness. Maybe it's changing but the support mechanisms are so often not there.

I've spoken to so many players who have been told to go to the Sporting Chance clinic and they've refused because they know, if they take time off, they'll lose their place in the team. Someone steps in and does well, so you're gone. That dissuades people from getting help. You feel obliged to get on with things.

I would urge lads to speak to the PFA, to speak to their manager, and not be scared about being dropped if they are feeling like I did. Be brave enough to say you need help before it's too late.

Over the course of his career, the former Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Cardiff City man has been blackmailed by people who have witnessed his out of control behaviour away from the field.

Sometimes I'd be sat there with the police and my lawyer, watching the CCTV footage of what I'd done, and I didn't recognise myself.

In Liverpool I was waking up in the middle of the night throwing up, people were blackmailing me, club owners and bouncers: "Pay money or we'll sell this story on you." And I had no idea what I'd even done on those blackouts.

Having not placed a bet since the end of last year and sober since his arrest in March, Caulker believes the healing process that can restore him to the top level is well under way.

For too long I've hated everything about myself and I needed to learn to love myself again.

I miss the game like crazy. I don't feel as if I've enjoyed playing football since Cardiff.

Now I feel good mentally and I want the chance to show people, including my son, what I am truly capable of. Wherever the opportunity arises, I'm just thankful still to be alive.

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