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One Of The League Of Ireland's Greatest Ever Players Contemplated Suicide At 22

By Conor Neville
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One of the League of Ireland's greatest ever players has talked about his battle with depression in an interview with the BBC.

Liam Coyle fell into depression when he was told his career was finished at the age of 22 due to a serious injury. Coyle had burst onto the scene the previous season, winning Footballer of the Year in 1988/89 as Derry City won the treble. He scored a hat-trick on his debut.

Early on the following season he wowed Sven Goran Erikssen in a European tie against Benfica at Brandywell. Erikssen was Benfica boss and made inquiries seeking to bring him to Portugal. Shortly afterwards disaster struck as Coyle suffered a dreadful knee injury against Dundalk in September 1989. The consensus opinion among doctors and physios was that his career was over. He had no option but to retire.

He spent a year and a half in despair (including the summer of Italia 90), barely able to get out of bed in the morning.


At his lowest point, he sat out on a beach for three hours staring at the sea and wondering whether he should take his own life. Only the thought of what this would do to his mother stopped him.

The story has a happy ending as Coyle confounded the doctor's prognosis and returned to play for Omagh Town in 1992-93 and shortly afterwards went back to Derry where he established himself as one of the clubs greatest ever players.


He also earned a cap for Northern Ireland cap against Chile, where he - a nationalist from the Bogside - was baited by the home support.

There was more success at club level. After a near miss in the 1994-95 season, Coyle was influential in Derry City winning the League again in 1996-97 under Felix Healy.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide then you can contact the Samaritans on free phone 116 123. More information is available here.


Listen to the interview below.

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