Football pundit admits past cocaine addiction

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The former Liverpool star admitted that he turned to drugs to escape problems in his life after retiring from professional football

Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy has opened up about his past addiction to cocaine and admitted that he struggled initially to adjust to life in the years after his retirement from football. The nine-time England international made his professional debut as a teenager for Crewe Alexandra in 1993 and enjoyed an incredible career, spanning two decades, which saw him play for the likes of Liverpool, Charlton Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham in the Premier League.

The midfielder dropped down to the Championship for the final season of his career and retired at Blackburn Rovers in 2013 at the age of 36.

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After losing the "adrenaline" of playing the sport at the highest level, he told the Ben Heath Podcast that problems became "huge" and he turned to drugs for "escapism". 

Murphy said: “I initially dabbled in certain things to get the odd buzz and high. 'I think it was an accumulation of things so I needed some escapism from reality. And reality was facing up to problems. 

“This financial problem, tax bill, relationship. How do I deal with problems when I don't play football? When you play football, the adrenaline and dopamine keep you forward thinking and energetic, irrelevant of the other issues. These issues become huge without football.

“I had a spell on cocaine and smoking some weed. The drink, I could live without it. I wasn't an alcoholic. I could sit in a house with alcohol and not drink it. 

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“For a while I was (addicted to cocaine), yeah. I got to the point where I thought I couldn't do things without it. Which was nonsense, of course I could. 

“You manage it initially, you do it once a week, twice a week, do it an extra third day and eventually it builds up and grabs hold of you.”

The ex-Liverpool star, who was part of the squad that won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001, claimed that going to both group and individual therapy, along with finding new purpose in punditry, helped him to overcome his problems.

He added: “You get some help and start understanding behaviours and patterns. When I got help, I put myself around people who have been through it. I did a bit of therapy and group work. 

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“Therapy was good. You've got to be in, you've got to be prepared to go deep and not everyone is because you've got to be in for an emotional rollercoaster in therapy.

“Not everyone is, especially if you've had a traumatic life. And it's (the whole process) made me a better person.”

Murphy has been a regular part of the Match of the Day lineup since 2013 and he has also forged a successful career as a pundit on TalkSport.

“I probably had a year of being in a world of pain,” Murphy continued. “The journey is never smooth but I definitely think that year to 18 months from 2017, going through that has made me a much better dad. 

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“I'm a better son, brother and I think I'll be a better partner. I'm more considerate to those who have been struggling in life and I've got a desire to be better.”

He explained that he believed it was common for former players to have similar issues to him and that he was "amazed" how many had reached out to him.

He added: “I've lost the fear of talking about it and people judging me now. I've seen it first hand, guys who have really been in a bad place come through and thrive again. That takes something. 

“People have a lot of opinions on stuff this like this who haven't been there, but sometimes you do need a bit of help and it's alright to reach out if you do.”

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