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Danny Murphy: Former Liverpool and England midfielder became addicted to cocaine after retirement

Danny Murphy playing for Fulham in the Premier League
Danny Murphy played for Fulham, Liverpool and Tottenham among others in a 20-year professional career

Former England midfielder Danny Murphy says he became addicted to cocaine after his playing career ended.

Murphy played for Crewe Alexandra, Liverpool, Charlton Athletic, Tottenham, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers before retiring in 2013.

He has since moved into punditry and works for BBC Sport as well as other outlets, including Talksport.

“When you don’t have football, problems become huge,” 47-year-old Murphy told the Ben Heath Podcast.external-link

“When you play football, the adrenaline and dopamine, all these things keep you forward-thinking and energetic.

“I had a spell on cocaine and smoking some weed. The drink, I could live without it. I wasn’t an alcoholic. I could sit in a house with alcohol and not drink it.”

Asked if he was addicted to cocaine, Murphy said: “For a while I was. I got to the point where I thought I couldn’t do things without it. Which was nonsense, of course I could.

“You manage it initially, you might do it once a week, twice a week, give yourself an extra third day. Eventually it builds up and grabs hold of you.”

But he said he found support and therapy helped him tackle his issues.

Having started his career with Crewe Alexandra, Murphy joined Liverpool in 1997.

He spent seven years at Anfield and was part of the squad that won the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup in 2001.

Murphy earned his nine England caps while he was with Liverpool.

A spell with Charlton Athletic followed, before he left The Valley to join Tottenham Hotspur in January 2006.

He moved across London to Fulham and helped them to the Europa League final in 2010 and ended his career after a spell at Blackburn.

Murphy said he “had a year of being in a world of pain” after finishing his career but “that year to 18 months from 2017” had given him “a desire to be better that I didn’t have before”.

He added that he believed it was common for former players to have similar issues to him and that he was “amazed” how many had reached out to him.

Dr Michael Bennett, director of player wellbeing at the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), said the union “regularly supports” members who have developed addictions when Everton midfielder Dele Alli spoke of his sleeping pill addiction.

Former Liverpool and Coventry City goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has also talked about being addicted to painkillers for the best part of a decade.

“I’ve had some real depths of despair,” said Murphy. “There’s a lot more help out there now.

“I think there is more, but you can never get a failsafe system.”

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can visit the BBC Action Line, the BBC’s information and support service, here.

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