Dean Windass leaves rehab: 'I couldn't have done it without the fans'
FOOTBALL star Dean Windass has told how he almost backed out of rehab before being inundated with messages of support from fans in Hull.
The former Hull City striker said messages from well-wishers helped him tackle his problems after revealing how depression drove him to twice attempt suicide. Back in Yorkshire after 26 days in a clinic for sports stars, Dean said: "I had thoughts about not going in but I'd stopped drinking and finally decided to check in.
"I've had an enormous amount of support and the people of Hull have been absolutely incredible.
"It gave me that extra burst of energy. One minute you want to kill yourself, the next people are telling you they love you.
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"People I don't even know have been concerned about me and I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart."
Dean, 42, left the Sporting Chance Clinic in Hampshire on Friday 1st lighter and having not touched a drink in a month. He says he is fitter, physically and mentally, and is looking to the future after battling depression.
Dean believes overcoming depression is his "biggest achievement", despite scoring the winning goal taking Hull into the Premier League in May 2008.
"I will never forget those memories but, even when I was successful, I had those feelings," he said.
"Fans don't know what happens within those four walls when you close your front door."
Struggling to cope with retirement from the game two years ago, Dean said he "cried every day".
In January, he took an overdose following the break-up of his 18-year marriage and the death of his father.
When swallowing a handful of pills did not work, he attempted to hang himself before being rescued by a friend and neighbour.
It was a wake-up call for the father-of-two and he took the first steps to getting his life back.
He phoned former Hull team-mate Ian Ashbee to discuss his problems and a call was made to the clinic.
"When I made the first phone call, it was a cry for help," he said. "But I couldn't go into rehab for two weeks. I was very scared. I'd been depressed for quite a while and it was a roller-coaster ride.
"I knew it would be very emotional but I wanted to get my head right."
The Tigers hero said he was "absolutely riddled with guilt" when his father John died from a heart attack, six months after they had fallen out and stopped speaking.
He said: "What happened with my dad was tragic. He was my best friend. But I think he would be proud of what I've achieved now. and I can openly speak about it."
Dean revealed his problems began after his parents divorced when he was about 12. He said: "I've had bad thoughts in my head since I was 12 or 13.
"In rehab, I revealed skeletons in my closet I never thought I would share with anyone.
"The group sessions were hard at first. I was talking about my problems to people I had never met before.
"But besides my wife, they know me more than anyone now."
Now, Dean is putting his energy into getting back to work as the Mail's columnist, TV pundit and football coach.
"I want to focus on what I'm good at," he said.
Since leaving rehab, Dean says he has had a "wonderful weekend" watching his sons Josh, 18 and Jordan, 13, play football.
"My children are a little bit older now and understand but it has been tough for my family.
"It's no longer about words, it's about actions.
"I actually can't believe I'm saying it but, at 42, I've finally grown up."
He says he will no longer use alcohol to mask his depression.
He said: "My mind is very clear now. I feel I can socialise again and have a pint with my mates.
"I'm not going to go out to get drunk because I'm not depressed."
Dean now wants to reach out to other people suffering from depression.
He said: "If it helps just one person, it's been worth it.
"All they have to do is tweet me if they have a problem."