Three years ago, Tom Boyd was the toast of West Melbourne after the Bulldogs delivered their first flag in half a century.
At just 21 years of age, he dominated the 2016 Grand Final, just like the superstar for which his team traded captain Ryan Griffen for a seven-year contract, $ 7 million.
But less than three years later on May 16, he gave it all up after years of struggling with mental illness that left him unable to sleep for months and ruined his form.
Tom Boyd (pictured with fiancée Anna von Moger) was a star soccer player who earned $ 1 million a year when he retired on May 16 after mental health problems
At just 21, Boyd (second from the left) dominated the 2016 Grand Final for the Bulldogs, as did the superstar for whom his team swapped his captain for
When the Bulldogs pushed their way to the AFL final two weeks ago by beating Adelaide, Boyd instead started scoring five goals for an audience of a few dozen at his local club Norwood – and he felt much better for it.
Boyd was just another in a long line of stars to retire early or admit that they were struggling with depression – including Dustin Martin, Dayne Beams, Travis Cloke and Buddy Franklin.
Last year Majak Daw of North Melbourne crashed from a bridge and barely survived. On Monday, St Kilda, the great Danny Frawley, 56, died in a car accident, although the cause is not yet known.
The end of Boyd & # 39; s career, only 23, was helped by relentless torments from fans on social media amid back injuries and poor form.
Unable to reach the highlights of his magical 2016 campaign and to play only 23 games in 2017-18, he was labeled the biggest bust in the AFL.
Part of that absence in 2017 was that he took time off to deal with clinical depression, but his revelation of that diagnosis did not give his critics a break.
& # 39; You have played football and made millions a fraud, & # 39; wrote a football fan this year in a response to his Instagram.
& # 39; Go to India, Southeast Asia, Central America, those people on the street have the right to be depressed. You are a coward and a shameful person who milks the poor me card and the mental health card. & # 39;
Boyd now plays for the Norwood team in the suburbs, where he played junior footy (photo)
Bulldogs president Peter Gordon selected raunchy social media attacks at the Boyd press conference.
& # 39; I think the way players interact with the increasingly intrusive and aggressive social media and media is a real problem for the game and I don't think he's the only young man who has really suffered from it & # 39 ;, he said.
& # 39; He has made a worthy decision, but I think we are all confronted with what this industry and what these media and the social media scene can do for young people. & # 39;
The next day, coach Luke Beveridge hit those who were determined to drag Boyd down and admitted it played a role in his retirement.
& # 39; That just shows a lack of conscience and drive to be filthy and that will never be forgiven by anyone at our football club, & # 39; he said.
Boyd is still exposed to low blows from insulting opposition fans shouting from the sidelines of muddy suburban ovals.
& # 39; How did you drop that? Did you run away from it? & # 39; is taunting an opponent fan when Boyd dropped a sign in a recent game against Blackburn in the presence of The Australian.
& # 39; He drew the mental health card. See, they can't test them for medicines if they get the mental health card. & # 39;
Boyd was just another in a long line of stars to retire early or admit that they were struggling with depression – last year North Melbourne's Majak Daw dived from a bridge and barely survived
Then St Kilda, the great Danny Frawley, 56 (in the photo with his family) died on Monday in a car accident
The belligerent fan kept his tirade on during the match and said to Boyd's opponent: & You absolutely kill him, Duffy – I would give you a million dollars if I could. & # 39;
& # 39; The $ 6 million man! I don't think he had a kick today. & # 39;
Boyd said his struggles began earlier than the 2016 final that his legend could have built – almost as soon as he was drafted.
The two-meter-tall teenager was first drafted at the 2013 draft, 10 days after finishing high school, by Greater Western Sydney as a certain future star.
He played nine games as a rookie and although he felt the onset of depression and anxiety, he put it down to just being homesick.
Boyd asked for an exchange back to Melbourne and eventually GWS gave in and sent him to the Bulldogs in exchange for 2014 pick number six and unsatisfied captain Ryan Griffen.
However, moving home didn't help and his mental health problems persisted in his new club, even when it challenged a premiere.
& # 39; It was difficult to cope with, because I didn't understand why the nostalgia was not healed by moving back to Melbourne & # 39 ;, he said last month in a video from the AFL Players & # 39; Association.
& # 39; In 2016 we clearly had a great year and we managed to win the flag, which was an incredible experience, but from my point of view it probably covered a lot of the cracks. & # 39;
Boyd gave it all up after years of struggling with mental disorders that prevented him from sleeping for months and ruined his form
The two-meter-tall teenager was first widely drafted at the 2013 draft, 10 days after he finished high school, by Greater Western Sydney as a sure future star
He seemed fine on the surface, but spent about six weeks with so much insomnia that he almost did not sleep at all.
& # 39; I was unable to operate physically, I was injured by that lack of sleep, I could not train, I could not concentrate, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; I remember watching my program at the gym, taking three steps and I had forgotten it all. & # 39;
Boyd started to visit a psychologist, but by 2017 his problems were so bad that he had to take months off to tackle them.
This free time and treatment gave him coping skills to cope with his illness, but by a season later his pleasure in the game and the will to keep playing had disappeared.
& # 39; My decision to retire now is a reflection of problems I have had over the past five years, both with physical injury and with mental health, & # 39; he said in his retirement.
& # 39; They've now come to a point where I just don't have the desire to play or the fun of the game I used to have. & # 39;
Boyd recovering from shoulder surgery – one of the many injuries that have ended his career
Boyd asked for an exchange back to Melbourne and eventually GWS gave in and sent him to the Bulldogs in exchange for 2014 pick number six and unsatisfied captain Ryan Griffen
Away from the spotlight, relentless pressure to perform and feelings of guilt over his enormous salary, he is much more at peace with the world.
& # 39; I am super comfortable. I've had pretty positive changes since I finished. I'm back in college (studying business administration), I'm playing footy locally and I got engaged so everything is going well, & he said.
Boyd and his old girlfriend Anna von Moger became engaged on 7 June.
At his first Norwood competition in June, he opened up how much he wanted to return to his local footy roots for his former junior team.
& # 39; I just felt that I had given up the desire to play at the highest level & # 39 ;, he told the local Knox leader.
& # 39; To a large extent, the hardships of AFL, mainly during the week and the ability to just play footy, are not the same as before for me.
& # 39; To return to the purest form of footy at the eastern level, the local level, is really important and I have always enjoyed it. & # 39;
His team missed the Eastern Football League final on percentage.
For confidential support call Lifeline: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Boyd and his old girlfriend Anna von Moger became engaged on 7 June
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