Dean Windass: '2012 was the worst year of my life, but I'm still here'
Hull City legend Dean Windass tells James Campbell why he will be glad to see the back of 2012 ...
THERE is something more philosophical about his demeanour as we settle down for a chat about his incredibly challenging year.
As well as being a hero in the city, Dean Windass is also widely thought of as something of a "Jack the Lad".
Yet this past year, Dean has finally grown up.
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But it has taken a series of devastating setbacks to get him to this stage.
It was almost a year ago that he twice tried to take his own life before checking into rehab.
In October, he was banned from the roads when he was convicted of drink-driving after crashing his car.
Now, with his "annus horribilis" almost at an end, Dean is looking to a far better 2013.
"I just want to get this year out of the way," he said. "It has been the worst year of my life but I'm still here.
"I will just carry on working next year and look to buy a house in Hull.
"When I finish my community service, I will probably go full time at Quality Fixing Supplies.
"I need to look forward and not backwards.
"I can't keep feeling sorry for myself and making mistakes.
"I have made my own problems. Now, I need to look in the mirror and grow up."
Father-of-two Dean spent 26 days in the Sporting Chance clinic in Hampshire following his suicide attempt.
In January, he took an overdose following the break-up of his 18-year marriage and the death of his father.
When it didn't work, he tried again to kill himself before being saved by a friend and neighbour.
The Tigers hero said he was riddled with guilt when his father John died from a heart attack, six months after they had fallen out and stopped speaking.
Many successful sports people struggle with life after the glory, wondering how to cope without the weekly adoration. Dean, 43, is no different but his problems were compounded by grief and the collapse of his marriage.
"I was going through a very difficult time with my dad dying and splitting up with my wife," he said.
"Having been out of football for three years, I didn't really have anything to occupy my mind. I'd go to the gym and that was about it.
"Sometimes, we take our parents for granted. I always thought my Dad would always be around to put things right.
"I just didn't want to be alive anymore.
"I got to the point where I felt I was bringing those close to me down and it would be better if I wasn't here anymore.
"I was just getting up, going to the gym and then drinking.
"I was depressed and so I would drink and then I would get even more depressed and drink more. It was a vicious circle."
It took his friends and family to persuade Dean to seek the help he so desperately needed.
"I was too embarrassed to ask for help," he said.
"I was drinking heavily at the time and trying to block out the emotions. Boredom was kicking in.
"After I attempted to take my own life, my former team mate Ian Ashbee and my brother-in-law Darren France came round and they could sense I wasn't right straight away.
"Ian put me in touch with PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle. He took me to see sports psychologist James West at the Sporting Chance Clinic."
That period proved cathartic for Dean who had bottled so much up over the years.
"I just couldn't stop crying," he said.
"Going into rehab was the best thing that could happen to me.
"It gave me a chance to share my feelings and open up.
"It really is a case of a problems shared being a problem halved.
"I had never spoken about my parents splitting up when I was young before.
"Too often in the past, I had bottled things up then I would have an outburst and go on a four-day bender.
"I also spoke to my therapist about my dad, which I hadn't done before."
While Dean hopes his experiences will encourage others to seek help for depression, being a role model couldn't have been further from his mind at the time.
"People were telling me they were proud of me coming out and speaking about my depression," she said.
"But I hadn't set out to encourage others to come forward.
"I don't know what would have happened if Ian Ashbee and Clarke Carlisle hadn't helped me.
"I do guest speaking now where I tell people to admit they have problems and not to feel embarrassed. You have to unload you problems at some point."
Dean admits, that like many sports stars, he has struggled to cope with life afterwards.
"When I scored that goal at Wembley, I didn't think life could get any better," he said.
"Many have struggled afterwards, such as Ricky Hatton and Gary Speed.
"It's great when you have something to wake up for, training with 20 lads and feeling fit.
"But then, one morning, you wake up and there's nothing, the phone stops ringing.
"I did a few things afterwards. I really enjoyed my time as a pundit on Sky Sports but when I went into rehab, I was told I didn't have a job anymore."
Dean is keen for football to remain a big part of his life in whatever form it takes.
He also goes to see sons Josh, 18 and Jordan, 13, play football when he can. He said: "I am playing for Walkington which is a really good laugh.
"It takes my mind off things for a couple of hours. I have never been a Big Time Charlie so I get on fine with all the guys.
"My dad always told me not to close doors on anyone because you might need them on the way down.
"I'm on Sky Sports radio each week and I have my column in the Hull Daily Mail.
"I would also love to get back into coaching. I have all my badges and I enjoyed my time as assistant up at Darlington."
One thing Dean can always rely on is the support of the city.
"The support I have had from those in Hull has been overwhelming," he said. "But I don't want people to feel sorry for me.
"I am getting through this."