Wayne Rooney has revealed how he drank until he ‘nearly passed out’ to escape his struggles at the height of his career.
In a new podcast hosted by rugby legend Rob Burrow, the Birmingham boss admitted he was ‘on the back burner for a few years’ after using alcohol as a coping mechanism instead of asking for help.
“I’ve had a lot of different challenges, both on and off the pitch, and my release was alcohol,” said ex-England and Manchester United captain Rooney when asked how he has dealt with tough times in his life.
‘When I was in my early 20s, I spent a few days at home and wouldn’t leave the house to drink until I passed out.
‘I didn’t want to be around people because sometimes you feel ashamed and sometimes you feel like you’ve let people down.
Wayne Rooney (left) has discussed his past drinking problems in a new podcast for Rob Burrow
Rooney was recently appointed manager of Championship side Birmingham City
Rooney during his time at United, where he became captain and club record goalscorer
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‘Ultimately I didn’t know how else to cope, so I turned to alcohol to help me get through it.
‘There were people I could talk to, but I chose not to and tried to deal with it myself.
“If you do that and don’t accept the help and guidance of others, you can really get put on the back burner, and I did that for a few years.
‘Fortunately, I am now not afraid to talk to people about certain problems I have.’
Rooney spoke to Burrow and his wife Lindsey for the first episode of Seven: Rob Burrow, a new seven-part BBC podcast series where the ex-Leeds Rhinos star interviews sporting greats.
Jonny Wilkinson and Dame Kelly Holmes are among those set to appear in future episodes, with Burrow using eye-gaze technology to ask questions.
During their conversation, Rooney praised his “inspirational” friend Burrow for the way he is coping with his battle with ALS, and referenced his wife Coleen’s sister Rosie, who died from Rett syndrome when she was 14.
“I know firsthand the impact this can have on yourself and the people closest to you,” the 38-year-old said.
Rob Burrow is an ex-Leeds Rhinos player who interviews seven of Britain’s top sports stars
‘Everyone has to change their way of life and I had that with my sister-in-law, who did not suffer from the same disease, but from something so serious.
‘Your energy and staying strong really helps everyone around you. I will always be there, and your family and close friends will always be there, to help you with whatever you need.”
Rooney has known Burrow since he presented Leeds Rhinos players with their shirts ahead of their grand final victory over Warrington at Old Trafford in 2012.
Explaining how he came to support the Rhinos, he said: “I didn’t really get into rugby league until I was 17, 18.
‘I remember thinking there was no way I was going to support St Helens, Warrington and Wigan because they’re all fake Scousers!
‘I thought, “Which team am I going to support?” and I remember seeing the rhinos playing and I was captivated.
“I knew it was controversial, playing for Manchester United and that rivalry with Leeds in football, but just seeing that first game captivated me as players and as a team.”
Burrow starred for Leeds, England and Great Britain during a trophy-laden rugby league career
As one of his seven questions, Burrow asked Rooney who his best and worst teammates were during his career.
“Dear teammate, I would probably say Darren Fletcher,” Rooney said. ‘My worst teammate, there are a lot more of them than you would probably think! On the field, Nani was the strongest. He was frustrating to play with.”
Rooney was appointed Birmingham boss last month and has lost three and drawn one of his first four games.
When asked by Burrow if he would rather still be playing, he replied: “You always wish you were still there, but I think I’ve put a little too much on it now so I don’t think I would are able to get out at the moment!
‘I love being a manager. I love to pass on my knowledge and experience from 20 years of playing at the highest level.
“In terms of communicating my ideas and making the team play the way I want them to play, it’s a challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge. It’s the best thing you can do when you can’t play.”
IT’S ALL GOING OFF!