Ex-Hearts striker Christian Nade opens up over depression battle

Christian Nade has opened up about his struggle with depression in a bid to raise awareness and help others. Picture: Neil Hanna
Christian Nade has opened up about his struggle with depression in a bid to raise awareness and help others. Picture: Neil Hanna

Christian Nade has opened up on his struggles with depression in a bid to help and support others, as he revealed how a friend had saved his life.

The former Hearts striker sent goodbye messages to his loved ones because he “didn’t want to live any more,” before walking into the sea at Dalgety Bay, in December 2014.

The 34-year-old told The Scottish Sun: “Everyone’s got demons to fight, but I was losing my battle.

“I felt I couldn’t take life any more, and I needed it to stop.

“I texted my family and said ‘I can’t deal with this any more, I’m sorry for everything’ and left my phone by the water.

“I kept walking further and further in.”

And the Frenchman revealed a friend screaming his name from the shoreline made him change his mind.

“I had been in the freezing water for an hour, and it was right up to my neck, then I heard a friend scream my name - it made me change my mind.”

Nade, who started his career in France with Troyes and Le Havre, first pitched up in Scottish football with Hearts in 2007, after a stint at Sheffield United during which he scored the winning goal in a match against Arsenal.

After scoring ten goals in 83 games for the Jambos, Nade had a brief spell in Cyprus, but returned to Scotland with Dundee in 2013, later turning out for Raith Rovers, Hamilton, Dumbarton, Stranraer and Annan Athletic.

It was during his spell at Stark’s Park that Nade felt that there was no way out.

Revealing how he was supported by current Hibs coach Grant Murray, then his manager at Raith, Nade added: “I just thought, ‘I don’t have time for this anymore’. But it was the worst decision I could have made.

“I should have been thinking about my family, friends and all the people I love before I did it - but I was thinking about myself, not them.”

Nade, who now plays for junior outfit Troon, is hopeful that opening up about his experience will not only raise awareness of the issue, but also support others who face similar struggles.

Former Falkirk and Queen of the South player Chris Mitchell took his own life in May 2016. The 27-year-old had been battling depression since being forced to quit the game following complications with spinal surgery.

Hibs boss Neil Lennon regularly speaks about his mental health, while former Hearts and Hibs striker James Keatings has also opened up about his depression.

Earlier this year, the then Dundee United forward told the Daily Record: “I didn’t want to admit to depression. For a few months, being injured was actually a blessing in disguise. Because it gave me time away.

“At one point, playing was the last thing on my mind. I was in a dark place and didn’t know where to turn. Initially I couldn’t get myself out of the darkness. Now I can. I’m getting better gradually.”

BBC Sportsound pundit and former player Tam McManus said in his Herald column in January that the stigma attached to mental health in football had prevented him from discussing his own struggles, while Cowdenbeath striker David Cox revealed in February that opposition fans had called him a “psycho” and taunted him about “slitting his wrists” during matches after he opened up about depression.

Former St Johnstone and Queen of the South player David Weatherston has spoken about the “never-ending downward spiral” that he experienced, while former English Premier League players Clarke Carlisle and Michael Carrick, as well as current England international Danny Rose, have also spoken publicly about their battles with mental health.

Now Nade, who revealed how a mixture of fatherhood and his faith has helped him cope with the illness, wants to use his own experience to help and support others.

He said: “I’m telling my story to help other people. They need to know that there’s always another way out.”

Nade revealed that off-field problems earlier this year had again pushed him to the brink.

The footballer was accused of attacking his former girlfriend and threatening to kidnap a baby and Nade, who was cleared of all charges last month, said the pressure had pushed him over the edge.

“I won’t lie, I had bad thoughts again after the allegations. I just wanted to end it. If I didn’t have God in my life I would have done it.”

Nade added: “I would just sit in my hotel room in the dark for days on end just thinking about it all.”

The striker was diagnosed with depression in June of this year, but has revealed focusing on being a father to his 18-month-old son as well as his faith has helped him.

“I want to talk about all this to show that there’s hope out there,” Nade explained.

“Thinking of my son saved me six months ago - I don’t want him to grow up without a dad. I’ve not been seeing a counsellor but my pastor back home in France has been amazing.

“You need to talk in situations like this, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

“Time will heal everything. I feel better now - I can’t stop smiling.”