Former England captain admits 5-0 defeat was “all-time low”
By Ian Birch
The former England cricket captain, Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, has very bravely spoken of his depression and alcohol problems in a BBC TV programme to be shown next week.
Flintoff discusses the mental wellbeing of top sportsmen in “Hidden Side of Sport” which will be broadcast at 10.45pm on Wednesday 11th January.
The 34 year old tells the programme that the team’s 5-0 defeat in the 2006-2007 Ashes was his “all-time low” and of alcohol problems during the 2007 World Cup – which made headlines at the time. Famously, he took a late night trip in a pedalo in the Carribean. He tells the BBC:
"I didn't read any of the press (about the pedalo incident) and I'm glad, because I was feeling so low that if I'd read that at the time it might have tipped me over the edge.
"The whole time I was on the field and throughout that World Cup all I could think about was that I wanted to retire.
"I didn't understand what was happening to me. I knew when I got back to my room I couldn't shut off, which is why I started having a drink. It got to the stage where I was probably drinking more than I should.
"One of the things that stuck out was the disappointment people had in me, the feeling I'd let people down. That doesn't just mean my team-mates and my coach - your family are reading that, my mum's read it, my nan's read it. (It's) a feeling of embarrassment and shame."
"I was supposed to be this character who was unflappable," he said. "I was having a drink with my dad on Christmas Eve 2006 and as we made our way home I started crying my eyes out.
"I told him I'd tried my best but that I couldn't do it any more, I couldn't keep playing. We talked and I dusted myself down and carried on. But I was never the same player again.
"I was captain of England and financially successful. Yet instead of walking out confidently to face Australia in one of the world's biggest sporting events, I didn't want to get out of bed, never mind face people."
Flintoff is the latest in a series of celebrities to “come out” about their mental health problems since Mind and Rethink and Comic Relief launched their “Time to Change” campaign several years ago. It is always sad when one of the national’s idols admits to suffering mental distress, yet I am always proud of them for having the courage and openness to go public, thus helping to reduce stigma and increase public awareness of mental health issues.