Retired AFL star Dale Thomas has opened up on the lowest point of his life when he faced mental health issues following his relationship split.
The former Magpie and Blue was rarely able to see his daughter Matilda, admitting he sat in his car crying before training.
The 258-gamer discussed the dark period with Tanya Hennessy on an I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! podcast.
“The lowest point was going through the split with the missus in pre-season, my daughter being sort of removed from my care and only being able to get there every second weekend at best at the start,” Thomas said.
“And then having to try and rock up to pre-season and then also dealing with some issues about how I was feeling about myself, everything in life.
“Having to deal with that while trying to be a professional athlete – at that point I didn’t really care. I was going to do the job, but I hated it.
“There were times where I’d rock up to training and sit in the car in tears then rock up and be court jester to try and hide it.
“I was liked for that, but I knew I was being a fraud, so that ate away at me as well. I knew I was sad; I didn’t know what to do.”
Daisy is enjoying the little things in life post footy and the freedom that comes with no longer being a professional athlete, such as openly enjoying a beer while playing golf.
“That’s the beauty of not having to answer to anybody but myself at the moment. Even to the point of playing golf and if I’ve got a beer in my hand not having to hide it. Things like being happy to have a genuine laugh,” he said.
“We’re told if you post photos while you’re playing (during the season), you’re not meant to have any alcohol … you’re meant to hide it. That’s why everyone has photos like this where (it looks like) we all have itchy backs.”
The 2010 premiership Pie added that AFL players face more pressure than ever before with the constant media attention.
“If I was to go in (to a show) and have a laugh … and take the mickey for a game we’re expected to win and we don’t win it, it (then) wouldn’t be about the game. It’d be ‘senior players are taking the mickey and not leading by example’.
“You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The media want more, but as soon as you give more, they hop you down. But if you give nothing, it’s like ‘he’s boring’.
“You’ve got to be able to find a happy medium.”