Former Liverpool defender admits he contemplated taking his own life in brave and emotional interview

Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock has revealed he contemplated suicide after falling out of love with football.

The two-time England international started his career with the Reds, making 67 appearances as the club won the Champions League, FA Cup and European Super Cup. Sold to Blackburn Rovers for £1.5m in January 2007, Warnock would later join Aston Villa in August 2009 before dropping down the divisions with stints at Bolton Wanderers, Leeds United, Derby County, Wigan Athletic, Burton Albion and Bradford City.

Losing "the buzz" for football as a result, Warnock has revealed how he suffered with depression during both the latter years of his career and after retiring, and at his lowest point even contemplated taking his own life.

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"I felt like I was getting frustrated with football," he told Sky Sports as part of their Real Talk series. "I'd played in the Premier League, then you slowly start to drop down. It becomes difficult, and that may sound a bit elitist or snobby but I just lost the buzz for it.

"I felt I wasn't playing the way I wanted to, I wasn't dieting the way I should. I probably wasn't as focused as I was, because I couldn't get to the top again. I felt down, it depressed me.

"I looked back on my career and thought I was a failure. I thought I'd had a terrible career. Going to Liverpool, then going to Blackburn, to Aston Villa, then to Leeds, and I just continued to go down. I always remember thinking I'd let myself down there.

"Now I look back at it and think wow, I was massively depressed for years. I retired at 35. I probably retired mentally at 31.”

The financial strain brought on by what Warnock calls an "ill-advised" investment suggestion from his financial advisor did not aid his mental health. Delaying retirement as a result, the former left-back wishes he had hung up his boots sooner.

"I didn't sleep properly for six years off the back of that [financial advice],” he said. “I was going back into training every morning on maybe three hours' sleep.

"Head touches the pillow, and I'm constantly thinking about how I get out of this. I look back and think money's not everything. I wish I had just gone, 'I've had a great run, I've lost the love for it, I'm going to find something else that makes me happy'.”

Fortunately, Warnock is in a much better place now following a chance encounter at Liverpool Lime Street station with an old friend who was training to be a counsellor . The 42-year-old credits him for ‘saving his life’.

"It must've been about eight or nine months later I rang him, and he said he'd been waiting for that phone call for ages,” Warnock recalled. "He told me I looked a mess on TV, and sounded it - and he said he'd make me feel better within two weeks. I dug deep, there were a lot of tears, there was a lot of honesty.

"I remember coming off that call, and thinking I felt so different within one session. I messaged him after it and asked when we could have the next one. It was like a fix, I needed it. He'd give me homework to do, and the more homework I was doing and thinking about things, working on things, the better I felt. Constantly.

"I'd contemplated taking my own life at one stage. I was in so much of a rut, I just thought I was done until I phoned him. I tell him all the time he saved my life.”