Wayne Rooney has described his abuse of alcohol early in his football career as a “release”, saying he would drink “almost until I’d pass out”.
The Birmingham manager opened up on the difficulties he faced in finding a way to deal with the pressure of fame on the new podcast of ex-rugby league star and motor neurone disease (MND) campaigner Rob Burrow.
Rooney first broke into Everton’s senior side at the age of 16, became an England international at 17, and joined Manchester United at 18, but said his high profile came with a cost.
“My release was alcohol when I was in my early 20s,” the 38-year-old told Burrow. “I’d go home, and spend a couple of days at home and not leave the house. I’d drink almost until I’d pass out.
“I didn’t want to be around people, because sometimes you feel embarrassed. Sometimes you feel like you’ve let people down and ultimately I didn’t know how else to deal with it.
“When you don’t take the help and guidance of others, you can be really in a low place, and I was for a few years with that. Thankfully, now I’m not afraid to go and speak to people about issues.”
Rooney, who recently returned to England after managing in the United States, is the first guest on a new series of the BBC’s The Total Sport podcast.
Former Leeds Rhinos star Burrow, who was diagnosed with MND in 2019, and his wife Lindsey interview seven sporting greats and ask seven questions on the podcast, called Seven: Rob Burrow.
Burrow uses AI technology and a computerised voice to communicate.
Rooney said Burrow’s approach to the disease had inspired others.
“I know first hand the impact this (illness) can have on yourself and people around you,” he said.
“Everyone must change the way of living and I had that with my sister-in-law, who suffered not the same illness but something as severe.
“But your energy and positivity helps everyone else around you. I can see the money you have raised for charity and to help others – it’s really inspiring.”