Wayne Rooney Reveals He Went on Drinking Binges to Cope With Pressure of Fame

© AP Photo / Scott Heppell / Manchester United's Wayne Rooney. (File)
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney. (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.02.2022
The athlete's problems with alcohol are a well-known fact, but this is the first time Rooney, record goalscorer for England and the Red Devils, has candidly spoken about the issue. His interview comes amid the release of a documentary about him.
Former Manchester United and England national team star Wayne Rooney has revealed he used to go on drinking binges to cope with the pressure of fame. It would not be an exaggeration to say that every boy who loves football dreams of playing in the English Premier League (EPL), widely seen as the best football league in the world.
For Wayne Rooney this dream came true, but as the saying goes, it came at a price. He describes the anxiety he dealt with when he started playing in the EPL at the age of 16 as an "explosion". The now 36-year-old says he was not ready for life in the spotlight.

"I would actually lock myself away and just drink to try to take all that away from my mind ... Locking myself away made me forget some of the issues I was dealing with. It was like a binge. Normally, that's with a group of lads but this was a self-binge. I'd get a couple of days off and I wouldn't want to be near anyone. I would sit in the house and for two days, I would just drink. Then on the third day, when I was back in training, I would have to dust myself down and put eye drops in and get through that week's training. I was in a really bad place", the athlete told The Mail on Sunday.

The ex-athlete, who is now coach of Championship side Derby County, said he struggled with bouts of anger caused by rough moments in his life, be that the financial problems of his family, the fights and arguments he got into in his neighbourhood, or the passing of his beloved grandmother, which left him traumatised.

"She died just before I made my debut for Everton in 2002. I was really close to her. I was devastated when she died. She was a big character", Rooney says.

Another major issue for Rooney was the constant pressure he felt as a young star as well as the constant attention from the media.

"It was just a buildup of everything, pressure of playing for your country, playing for Manchester United, the pressure of some of the stuff which came out in the newspapers about my personal life, just trying to deal with all that pressure which builds up", he said.

The father of four admits that it was impossible for him to share his feelings with his teammates in the dressing room, seemingly because of a fear to show vulnerability, adding that now people are more empowered to speak about their emotions and problems.

The 36-year-old recalls a moment when TV anchor Jonathan Ross described Rooney and his parents as "sub-humans" when commenting on the image of the trio emerging from the ocean.

"Still, to this day, if I saw Jonathan Ross, I would speak to him and ask him why. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have spoken to him. I would have hit him. If you are having a go at me, no problem. I'm in the public eye. I get it. But not my parents. I felt that was really unfair", he says.

The pain and rage the athlete struggled with had a detrimental effect on his life both on and off the pitch. Rooney recalls how he ended up injuring Chelsea's John Terry by putting on longer studs because he "wanted to hurt someone". Terry required treatment with his sock reddened with blood.

"If Chelsea won a point, they won the league. At that time, I couldn't take it. The studs were legal, they were a legal size, but they were bigger than what I would normally wear", Rooney said.

It seems karma came back to bite Rooney as he got himself injured during that same game by twisting his boot in the turf.
Despite the rage and pain he struggled with bringing him trouble, he admits that they helped him on the pitch.

"It was almost as if being right in my head took a bit away from my game. Not being right in my head gave me that added unpredictability", Rooney says.

The father of four elaborated more on his problems as well his career in an upcoming documentary produced by Amazon Prime. The 36-year-old reveals he managed to defeat his demons and now has his life under control. Rooney says he wanted the documentary to be honest and is happy with the way it turned out.

"I wanted to speak about the good times and the bad times. What I have wanted for a long time is for people to actually know me as a person, not a football player. I wanted people to know me as a son and a dad and a husband. There have been mistakes in the past, which I have always held my hands up to. When people get to know me as a person, they see a different person, I think", he said.

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