Claus Lundekvam has opened up about his battle with drug addiction and suicide in an eye-opening interview with the Telegraph.
The Southampton legend, who played on the south coast for 12 seasons, has had to fight off his demons since his retirement in 2008 after he struggled to come to terms with his professional career coming to an end.
Lundekvam, who plied his trade as a centre-back during his time on the pitch, revealed that he had tried to take his own life on two occasions as he sought a way out of the dark periods following the end of his time on the field of play.
He said: "I've been very close – I've tried to kill myself twice. That was the pain I went through. I couldn't handle the guilt and shame of letting others down. The addiction controlled every waking second. All I could think about was alcohol, cocaine and having enough pills to get through the day.
"I had a heart attack. Took overdoses. Eventually it went so far that I simply gave up. I could not live any more. I thought it was better for my family that I was dead. There has been a journey to hell for me to become drug-free but I am grateful that I'm standing here today. Alive.
"I lost control. I woke up in the morning shaking, full of sweat, depressed. I needed a big glass of straight vodka to get me going. I was drinking between one and two bottles a day.
Great read we tend to forget they have everything materially but when the day job finishes real life is still there— Gareth Cooper (@ThatGarateyjc) April 20, 2018
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"I discovered cocaine and, for a short while, I thought I had found something that could give me the excitement of performing in front of 50,000 people. How wrong I was. With the cocaine, it is very difficult to sleep. To counter that, I needed a lot of sleeping pills and I also took a lot of sedative prescription drugs."
Thankfully Lundekvam has since turned his life around, and is now using his experiences to help other users combat their own addictions after coming to terms with his own past.
The former defender played 413 times for the Saints, and was part of the defeated team in the 2003 FA Cup final that was won by Arsenal.