dealing with the past

Jon Walters: 'Now that I'm finished as a player, I'll spend a lot of time on myself'

The recently-retired Ireland striker has opened up about the death of his brother.

THIS TIME LAST year, former Ireland striker Jonathan Walters gave a powerful interview, and opened up about the death of his mother when he was just 11 years old.

Jon Walters Jon Walters announced his retirement last week. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“I put up a wall and locked it away,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Tony Livesey.

And now, days after announcing his retirement, Walters joined Livesey for another emotional in-depth interview. This time he spoke candidly about the recent death of his brother.

The ex-Burnley star lost his brother James last summer, and is still coming to terms with his passing. Walters hopes that time away from football will help him with that.

“I’ve talked about Mum a lot more with close members of my family and my Mum’s sisters,” he explained. “I found out a lot more things I didn’t know about her.

“Then while I was going through it all, my brother passed away last summer. He was just 35 and it was difficult, it was tough. You are dealing with all that at home and then you are back on your own in the gym every day and it was a difficult time.

“Now that I’m finished as a player, I will take more time to look after that side of things for me. I’ll be taking myself out of football and the day to day routine to spend a lot of time on myself. It’s a tough thing to do, but something that’s needed to be done.

“One of my Mum’s sisters went into a bereavement counselling in Dublin and I have spoken to her about it briefly. It is something I will look at now. I’m a very private individual and knowing that support is there is very good for me.”

jon1 Jonathan Walters Twitter. Jonathan Walters Twitter.

Walters announced his retirement from club and international football at the age of 35 last Friday, ultimately due to an Achilles injury.

Since then, he’s watched his former Ireland team-mates record 1-0 wins over Gibraltar away and Georgia at home respectively, and admits it’s tough to look on.

“It’s the most difficult part,” he told Live Drive. “When you’re watching Ireland, that’s heartbreaking.

“I haven’t played a lot of club football the past couple of years, and I’ve always said I could park that to the side, but the one thing I’ll miss the most is the international side.

“Everything about it — from meeting up with the team, to all the staff there from the bus drivers to the physios, the security guys, everyone. Apart from that, I am a big believer in what is meant to be is meant to be.”

Jonathan Walters In training last September. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Walters, who scored 14 goals in 54 international games for the Boys In Green and ended his playing career on loan at Ipswich Town, admitted that he was ‘very surprised’ at the reaction he has received since announcing the news, adding that it was ‘strange’.

“I didn’t realise people held me in such high regard,” he said. “Looking back, looking at all the photos, that’s when it gets you a bit. I’ve managed to live my dream and it’s been a great journey along the way.”

He also delved into his plans for the future. Getting his coaching badges to help his children is most definitely on his radar, along with some of the things he’s pursuing already.

“I’ll take a variety of routes and see which path is the right one to go down,” he said. “I’ve got involved with media work over the past year or so and really enjoyed that, because you can give your perspective on football.

jon2 Jonathan Walters Twitter. Jonathan Walters Twitter.

“A different route is an agency. The agent who looks after me is an ex-player. He went into it looking after four of five players maximum, and he said to me if I fancied it when I finished I could help him out and he’d teach me. That interests me, because I wouldn’t be doing it for a financial reason.

“I’ve been clever with my finances down the year and it’s not something that I need, I’d do it to look after people and guide them in the way I’ve looked after myself during my career. I’ve always done things my own way, and done it the right way.”

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