Ex-Hibs striker Garry O'Connor considered suicide but was saved by his love for three kids

Playing The Game: Garry O’ Connor will be shown on the BBC on Tuesday
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Ex-Hibs and Scotland striker Garry O’Connor has revealed that he had considered suicide but was saved by his love for his three kids.

The fallen idol – who hit the headlines over cocaine, his crashed Ferrari and a string of other high-profile incidents – opened up on his fall from grace for a television documentary to be screened next week.

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The former Easter Road fans’ favourite broke through the Hibs ranks as a teenager in 2001 and went on to win 16 international caps, scoring four goals for Scotland.

Ex-Hibs and Scotland striker Garry O’Connor has revealed that he had considered suicide but was saved by his love for his three kids. Inset: When playing for HibsEx-Hibs and Scotland striker Garry O’Connor has revealed that he had considered suicide but was saved by his love for his three kids. Inset: When playing for Hibs
Ex-Hibs and Scotland striker Garry O’Connor has revealed that he had considered suicide but was saved by his love for his three kids. Inset: When playing for Hibs

But despite huge moves to Russia and England, O’Connor’s career took a nosedive when he tested positive for cocaine in 2009.

Speaking in Playing The Game: Garry O’ Connor, to be shown on BBC Scotland, he told of his struggle with drugs, injuries and depression.

O’Connor, originally from Port Seton, says that he needed help from Back Onside, a mental health charity aiding current and ex-players, and thoughts of his sons and daughter stopped him from taking his own life.

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He said: “I’m not scared to admit it, I’ve thought about committing suicide a few times. You just think you’re worthless at times and it’s not the answer.

“I’ve got three lovely kids to look after and that’s the thing what probably stopped me from doing it.

“I made it a priority, when they get to an age, that I would tell them, ‘Look, your dad’s kind of different and I’ve made a few silly mistakes, but at the end of the day I’m still your dad’. You’re going to get comments, I’ll just tell them to basically ‘just rise above it and just move on’.”

O’Connor earned a reported £16,000 a week after a £1.6 million move to Lokomotiv Moscow in 2006, and was handed huge cash bonuses for winning city derbies.

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But his partner Lisa became homesick for Scotland, he felt isolated and squandered money, spending £120,000 in cash on a Ferrari he only drove 500 miles in what he now recognises was the first signs of depression.

In 2007, he moved to Birmingham City for £2.7m and confessed: “I started drinking, took some drugs and that was probably my lowest part, about that time. In 2009 I failed a drugs test at the training ground.”

He moved to Barnsley and returned to Hibernian in 2011, later returning to Russia with Tom Tomsk. O’Connor had spells at Greenock Morton and lowly Selkirk, hanging up his boots in 2016 and finding he was broke.

After skirmishes with the law, he hit rock bottom and contemplated suicide after his battle with mental health.

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He said: “I’m no angel. I’ve made a few mistakes, I hold my hands up to them. Having depression and anxiety is not nice and it’s trying to find ways of dealing with it.”

He adds: “I’ve got this bad boy image but I’m not that kind of person which is portrayed in the media. I’m trying to change and make up for the mistakes I’ve made.”

Playing The Game: Garry O’ Connor is on BBC Scotland, Tuesday, August 18, at 10pm

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