Former Everton prospect George Green has given an honest interview on his personal struggles of the last few years.
Green, now 22, signed for the Toffees in 2011 from Bradford City for a fee rising up to as much as £2 million, but a fight with personal demons overshadowed his time on Merseyside, and the midfielder departed Goodison Park in 2015 without a single first-team appearance to his name.
He told his harrowing story in a candid interview with the BBC:
“Everton paid for it all, I think it was about £5,000-a-week. Before I turned 18 you wouldn’t catch me out at night. As soon as I was 18 it was like a new world opened up. I was drinking, doing drugs and playing football.
“The first time I took drugs I’d gone to watch football in a pub with mates. I was offered cocaine and it changed my life.
“I was in that much debt, I thought I’d lost my partner due to my drug use, and I didn’t see a way back for me with football.
“I squandered it all. I’m embarrassed. Everybody wanted to know who I was and I was enjoying life. But I never got introduced to people who would keep me on the straight and narrow. They drank or did drugs and I fell into that circle.”
Green has endured a nomadic career since leaving the Blues.
He is now at Chester, his tenth club, after spells at Tranmere Rovers, Oldham Athletic, Ossett Albion, Burnley, Kilmarnock, Salford City, Viking and Nuneaton Town.
It was after his move to Ossett Albion, falling from the Premier League to English football’s eighth tier, that Green admitted to contemplating suicide.
“Leaving Everton hit me hard. I was stood on a railway track close to Mirfield station near Dewsbury ready for a train to come. I remember it being around eight or nine o’clock at night.
”I hadn’t written a note. It was all the pressures of everything in my life. The drugs, the alcohol, my mental health, football wasn’t going well, lack of money.
”Then there was an announcement over the speakers that the next train was delayed.
”I thought ‘it must be a sign that it can’t be my time to go’. I broke down in tears and walked away.”
He is yet to feature for the National League North side after signing a one-year deal in July due to a back injury but Green, having fought drug addiction, alcoholism and depression, is keen to put the past behind him now, and hopes opening up will raise awareness of such issues.
“Football is the only thing I am good at. Without it I’d be dead. I thought my career would be over if I came out and started talking about my issues with drugs.
“Then I said to myself ‘how about being honest for once in your life and admit your problems’.
“If my story helps one person, I’m happy to tell it. I’m happier, healthier and way more positive than I was.”
A tough story to endure, and likely even tougher for the player who once was thought to have starting potential to finally come to grips with his reality. Kudos to the youngster for trying to use his story to help warn other young players coming after him.
Editor’s Note: We only used a few excerpts from the piece, please read the full interview on the BBC website.