Former England out half Johnny Wilkinson has openly admitted to suffering mental ill-health as he struggles to adjust to retirement. The World Cup winning player this week revealed that since calling time on his career last year, the 34-year-old said:
I feel like I'm breaking apart in that I am going somewhere where my answer will be massively in the spiritual and philosophical, but it's not there yet.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday Wilkinson also revealed that he suffered from depression between the World Cups in 2003 and 2007 during which he was hampered with several injuries.
Before I got my injuries I was so tied up with who I was and how important I felt I was. I went through depression in the four years I was injured. I was forced to go through it.
Wilkinson enjoyed a glittering career at both club and international level. He achieved 91 caps for his country, and retires as England's leading points scorer with his total of 1,246 second only to New Zealand great Dan Carter.
He was inducted as a Member of the British Empire after winning the World Cup in 2003 and was then made a CBE in 2007.
But Wilkinson reflects on those accomplishments as being ill-gotten.
I find it difficult being honoured with something when I don't see that I have earned it, or could have earned it. I don't feel any worth in saying 'I was a rugby player.'
Wilkinson was also successful as a club player, winning a Premiership title and two Anglo-Welsh Cups with Newcastle as well as Heineken Cups and a French Top 14 title with Toulon where he subsequently retired.