Before closing, Roy Carroll showed youngsters at his goalkeeping school a video of his infamous save for Manchester United against Tottenham in 2005, kicking the ball back so far over the line you could almost see the net ripple.
“I’m not going to say it’s not the one I’m most asked about, because it is. People want to know what happened, ”says Carroll.
The incident with Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira in the tunnel against Arsenal is the second biggest. That was a fantastic night, two good teams in a battle, a war. ‘
Roy Carroll opened up Sportsmail in his fights on and off the field throughout his career
He explained how he is regularly asked about his infamous save in 2005 against Tottenham
Then the conversations ended. So did his RC1 school, even though Carroll keeps in touch with students at Zoom. The Covid crisis turned severe again, initially forcing him to quit his job as goalkeeper coach at Nottingham Forest academy after one day and return to Northern Ireland a year ago.
A man who is brutally honest about his battle with depression has found life in lockdown difficult.
Carroll admits he started wrestling again before Dungannon Swifts gave him the chance to play again at the age of 43, two years after his last appearance in the Irish League for Linfield.
“Believe me, in this time when we are locked up, I know what people are going through,” said the former United goalkeeper.
‘I had been good for a long time until now. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, it knocks you down.
‘I would have to fight really hard if I was in the house. I struggled because I didn’t know what to do, and then Dungannon came for me. I never thought I would play again after being away for so long.
Carroll, 43, enjoyed a career of 12 clubs with Notts County (right), his last club in England
The Northern Irishman started drinking in 2006 and it soon became more common
‘I’m lucky. We watch football on TV every night and these professionals don’t realize how lucky they are to still be playing. I feel sorry for the thousands of children, men and women who cannot exercise. I know how serious that is for mental health.
‘You have to show the kids a brave face when you do Zoom chats because every week they get more and more down. There’s no point in saying everything’s brilliant – it’s not. ‘
Last year, Carroll joined FC Mindwell, a club for men with mental health problems, to raise awareness and help others.
The club also signed former Northern Ireland team-mate Keith Gillespie, a significant coup for a team that plays in Division Three of the Mid-Ulster League.
“I appreciated what FC Mindwell was doing,” says Carroll. ‘I didn’t realize how serious it was until I first moved home in 2016. It opened my eyes and I just want to give back because I went through a really bad time with depression and alcohol. I want people to understand that it’s okay to talk.
‘I’ve been off the drink for 10 years in June. It’s a habit, you get into a routine.
‘It can happen to anyone who is depressed and drinks quite heavily in the house: nothing else to look forward to, just have a few beers.
“It gets worse the longer the lockdown lasts. You have a few drinks and more drinks the next night. That’s you, you’re addicted. ‘
Carroll joined FC Mindwell, a club founded for men with mental health problems, to raise awareness
Carroll’s concerns about lockdown come as no surprise, as his problems with depression and alcoholism in West Ham started in 2006 when he was locked up at home with a back injury.
‘I had never had a long injury and slowly but surely I got into a deeper hole. I wasn’t mentally prepared for it, ”he says.
‘I was just in a dark room drinking heavily. I had no outside help. Nobody knew what was wrong with me because I never talked about it. Everyone thought I was the happiest man in the world, but I would go home, shut the door and bang my head against the wall, have a few drinks to try and forget.
‘For me it was getting rid of the depression. You would have a lot to drink and forget about it. The next day it got worse and you are drinking again. It does not work. I went to rehab because others wanted me to: my wife, my agent, and my friends. I didn’t see anything wrong with me, that was my biggest problem. ‘
Carroll continued to drink while with Rangers, Derby and the Danish club Odense. But things got out of hand in the nine months he was out of work after leaving Denmark.
“When I had a club, I always thought about not drinking the day before a game,” he says. ‘That was strange – when I stopped playing and nobody wanted me, I drank almost every day.
The ex-United goalkeeper won the league at Old Trafford (right), but those highs were replaced by lows in his battle against alcoholism, and Carroll believes he would be dead had he not quit.
‘I had a lot of time to spare, I drank great. If I hadn’t stopped I wouldn’t have been here today. I don’t feel like my body would have lasted.
‘I was never at that stage where I would have committed suicide. I was lucky that I was not that far ahead. But the drink would have killed me. The stuff I drank and the way I drank it, I wouldn’t have woken up one morning. I don’t care about alcohol anymore. The first four or five years were very difficult, but now I don’t need it. I’m crazy enough without the booze!
‘But the depression does come back from time to time. I’ll never get rid of it.
‘A lot of football players will experience it, but they only come out when they retire. They try to keep it in because it’s their livelihood. ‘
The moment of the light bulb came on June 11, 2011. Carroll lived alone in Canary Wharf, separated from his wife Kerry and two children, and still without a club.
“I looked in the mirror, something clicked and I said,” What am I doing? ” That was it, I changed my life, ”he recalls. ‘I was in an apartment away from my family because I was going downhill.
‘My wife found out that I was out of booze. She invited me to come home and we had a great conversation. ‘
A few weeks later, Carroll received a call from a Greek agent offering him the opportunity to revive his career in Crete. The lifestyle was ideal for the family to make a fresh start and his form earned him a move to Olympiacos.
Carroll was then grateful for the unexpected opportunity, as he is today. Above all, he wants to use his experience to help others.
One day a man who earned 45 caps for his country would love to be in charge of overseeing Northern Ireland’s goalkeeping structure right down to the senior team. Not only to pass on his expertise, but also to lead players away from the mistakes he has made.
“Footballers are being abused on social media – stay away from it,” says Carroll. ‘The trolls just want to ruin people’s lives. My biggest downfall then was worrying about what others thought. People can now think of me what they want.
“I’m more concerned about whoever is reading this and it could help him or her or their children.”
Now the ex-United and West Ham bullet stopper wants to help others who are having similar battles