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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 25 January, 2020

Happier than I've ever been: Fahey finds peace of mind after battling depression

The ex-Ireland international speaks candidly about mental health and the personal challenges he has endured.

keith-fahey-and-bastian-schweinsteiger Ireland's Keith Fahey tangling with Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany during a 2014 World Cup qualifier. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

WHEN KEITH FAHEY announced his retirement from football in 2015, many expressed the view that his talents had been worthy of a longer spell at the highest level.

Although he earned 16 senior caps for his country, played over 50 games in the Premier League and won a League Cup medal at Wembley, there was a widely-held belief that one of the most gifted Irish players of his generation had the potential to achieve even more.

In reality, given the off-the-field torment that Fahey endured throughout his career, that his CV boasts such honours is highly commendable.

The former Republic of Ireland international opened up about tackling depression and anxiety while appearing as the guest on Episode 12 of The Football Family podcast.

Fahey revealed that last year he set about making significant changes to his lifestyle which have benefited his mental health considerably.

“Anxiety, depression… what I had done to get away from that for a long time, I don’t do that anymore. Since I realised what was wrong with me as well on top of the anxiety and depression, or what I was doing to get away from that, my life has improved.

“I get peace of mind at times. People might say ‘oh he’s fucking mad’, but all I ever wanted was peace of mind. I never had it, but life is good today.”

Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

Fahey, who’s now coaching the U13 team at Shamrock Rovers, spoke candidly about how he turned to alcohol at the age of just 15 to deal with the homesickness he suffered from when he moved to London to join Arsenal.

The former St Patrick’s Athletic and Birmingham City midfielder also discussed being raised in a broken home by his father, and the grief that followed the death of his “hero” just days after he made his Premier League debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The importance of acknowledging one’s need for help is a message Fahey was keen to convey to others who are struggling with their mental health. 

“Seeking help is a start,” he said. “Realising you have a problem is probably a little bit before that. Start to reach out, start to get well straight away. And that’s a constant. It’s not something that you reach out once and someone helps you and you’re fixed.

“Where I am today, I’m a lot happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve played for Ireland, I’ve played in the Premier League, and I could never enjoy it. I was never really happy. There was always something wrong with me. I always felt something’s still not right.

“Today it’s not like that and I’m very thankful.”

Access to The Football Family is normally exclusive to The42 members. However, due to the potential for Keith Fahey’s message to aid others who may be experiencing similarly tough times, we’ve decided to make this episode freely available to all.

(Click here to listen to Ep. 12 of The Football Family if you are experiencing difficulty with the link below)

Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Originally published at 07.30

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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