By David Hennessy
As a teenager with a deft touch, Kevin Grogan conquered the continent as part of Brian Kerr’s Under-16 European Champions in 1998. Mick McCarthy attempted to tempt him to Millwall but it was the lure of Alex Ferguson and Manchester United that the Dubliner succumbed to. Training with Beckham, Giggs and Keane, Kevin was never out of his depth and was set for a bright future in the game before disaster struck.
Feeling pains in his hip and pelvis, several doctors thought they could help Grogan but no operation ever managed to fully alleviate the severe bone erosion. After leaving Manchester United in 2000, he attempted a comeback at Millwall in 2002 but it was there that doctors told him his body could not take it after a series of operations and injections.
In 2011, the footballing world was shocked by the suicide of Wales manager Gary Speed, a man who looked to many to have it all. Several players have since spoken about the huge void left in their life after the final whistle has blown. Many speak about depression and losing much more than a career, even their whole identity.
“I think when you’re a professional footballer, your whole life is based around that and that’s really all you know in many ways,” Kevin explains.
For more see the March 30 print edition of the Irish World