Football

Keith Treacy's Important And Absorbing RTÉ Radio Interview

Keith Treacy's Important And Absorbing RTÉ Radio Interview

"The strongest man in the room is the one that can point out his own flaws."

Keith Treacy's relationship with alcohol began at a young age and followed him through his professional career. In fact, even before he moved over to Blackburn Rovers as a teenager he had a few drinks to celebrate the end of the Junior Cert.

"I had a very loose association with drink. I didn't see it as a drug," Treacy told Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning.

Now sober for two years, Keith is keen to get his story out there and let other young players know they are not alone in any difficulties they face. In an absorbing interview Treacy explained to Tubridy how he had meandered through his career as somewhat of a functioning alcoholic; someone who didn't even realise he had a problem.

A spell with with the Irish senior squad between 2010-11 was the highlight of a career that saw him at Barnsley by the end of 2014. It was there he got his first wake-up call, the morning of a match against his former club, Preston North End.

We had a game on Boxing Day. It was Barnsley against Preston and I was allowed stay in my own house because it was so close to the stadium. I woke up on Boxing Day morning and there was sick and blood all over my sitting room floor. I'd had a few drinks the night before which obviously shouldn't have done with a game the next day.

The taxi driver came in to drop me to Deepdale and there was blood all over the ground, all over the sofas, in the toilet, it just wasn't right. Even the taxi driver at the time was asking "Should I ring your mother and father? Should I get them over? Should I ring your wife?

I went to play the game. I was put on the bench, thank God, and I quickly made an excuse that I had the flu. I went to do a sprint in the warm-up and everything just kept going black and black and black until eventually I couldn't even see people in the stand so I made up some excuse that I had a flu or something and the gaffer said "Listen, don't worry about it."

"I didn't even stay for the game. I rang my wife, jumped on a plane and went home."

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Treacy left Barnsley that January: "There was still another two years of heavy drinking. Although it was a wake-up call, I still wasn't quite ready to give it up."

However it did move Keith's wife, Leanne, to encourage him to find help and the midfielder has since been in therapy for the last four years.

She's [Leanne] the one who held it all together. I wasn't the one who wanted help. To be honest I probably would have just kept floating through England, just kept doing what I was doing and probably would have been in a really bad state at the minute - if I'd even be with us at all.

Which is scary to think but it did really get that bad at a couple of points in my life but my wife was the one who dragged me by the scruff and got me out of it.

The process has helped Treacy enormously and he hopes his story can help others: "I just unloaded on my wife, my therapist and anyone who'd listen. Even this now is a form of therapy for me."

"This is one of the reasons I like to speak about it. I do think for young fellas going over [to the UK] it's a minefield mentally so the message needs to get across that it's not all rosey in the garden and it can be quite tough over there."

Indeed, a now sober Keith is thankfully in a place where his therapy sessions are not as frequent: "I haven't see her in the last couple of months because I think I have made enough progress. I see her all the time walking the dog so I get a freebie off her now and again!"

Still only 30, he has also rediscovered his love for football and is ready for a comeback, after leaving Pats two years ago: "Next pre-season doesn't start until January so I'm going to give myself a couple of months to lose this last bit of puppy fat. Everything's looking good."

His chat with Ryan featured a whole lot more, including a great story about the awkward moment when he finally met his idol, Damien Duff, at their first Irish training camp together. You can listen to the full interview here.

See Also: Eddie Howe's Glowing Praise After Mark Travers Saves EVERY Penalty In Shoot-out

Mark Farrelly
Article written by
Balls Media Audience Development Manager. Former Miss World 1997 contestant.

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