Dean Windass: I'm broken-hearted and ashamed. But I'm trying to get back on track
Sports editor Paul Baxter looks at former Hull City player Dean Windass's struggle adjusting to life after football ...
• UPDATE: Dean Windass handed driving ban
TEN months on from revealing two attempts to take his own life, Dean Windass still faces a battle with his mind every day.
Waking up alone in his flat – in the same village as the home he once shared with his wife and two boys – the feeling of loneliness is a world away from the spotlight he was accustomed to as a Hull City hero.
This Friday Mexican night at The Black Bull, Burton Pidsea, Two...View details
Indulge with our delicious range of specially selected Mexican dishes available from 5pm to 8:30pm this Friday 21st June. Traditional evening menu also available.
Terms: Terms: Friday the 21st June only, from 5pm to 8:30pm. Offer includes two main Mexican courses. Minimum 2 people dining.
Contact: 01964 770402
Valid until: Saturday, June 22 2013
The world of football – from clubs to the media – have largely turned their backs on the 43-year-old who famously fired the Tigers into the Premier League at Wembley in 2008.
That has been hard for Windass to accept but it is the loss of what he had at home that continues to block his road to recovery.
Windass insists he has worked hard to get his life back on track and, from the day he walked out of rehab, he has focused on trying to make a fresh start.
But crashing his Mercedes, three times over the drink-drive limit, last Tuesday, the clear indication is he still has some way to go to overcome his demons.
Despite attempts to save his marriage to wife Helen after emerging from the Sporting Chance Clinic, they have since divorced amicably.
And Windass admits the end of family life is still what hurts the most.
"I went through rehab and came out thinking I could get my marriage back but I couldn't," Windass said.
"Helen tried to make things work but it just wasn't happening and I just started feeling sorry for myself again.
"Now, I am living in a flat by myself just outside Leeds, in the village where my family home is.
"Getting divorced and not seeing much of my kids has hit me hard.
"It's difficult not seeing the kids everyday.
"When I was getting divorced, I thought I wanted to but when it has gone through and done and you are alone, you look back and think of all you have lost.
"You suddenly reflect upon losing someone who has been in your life for 20 years.
"You wake up in a flat on your own and you miss your kids shouting and screaming.
"When I wake up to peace and quiet, I want the kids jumping on my head in the morning."
Trying to rebuild his life, Windass found that despite great support on the terraces and among fellow players, the doors at football clubs were firmly shut.
He has applied for job after job in the football world only to be turned away – even losing his job as a reporter on Soccer Saturday for Sky without explanation.
"I have been trying everything to get back into the game, but I just can't," he said.
"I have put my CV in to clubs every time a managerial position has become available, but it's tough trying to get back in.
"Nobody has a divine right to get a job just because of what they achieved as a footballer, but it has been disappointing.
"Then I lost my job at Sky Sports after coming out of rehab and have still not been told to this day why.
"That was a setback as I had a good two to three years there and was enjoying it, getting up and going to football on a Saturday."
Finding many well-wishers in his hour of need, but not many friends to truly help him out, it is in Hull and East Yorkshire that Windass believes he can really rely on people.
He is playing football again for Walkington, and it was through friends there that he was offered work at Quality Fixing Supplies in Hull.
It sees Windass earn commission for selling nuts, bolts and washers in premises only a stone's throw away from the KC Stadium, but, for him, it was the fresh start he needed.
He says he has now come to accept he can no longer look back at what he achieved in the past, and has to focus on the future.
And it is with that in mind that he has been left so disappointed with himself for his recent drink-drive shame.
"It is just really, really disappointing to let myself down like this," he said.
"I am going to explain to the magistrates about losing my dad, my divorce and the fact that I have had the worst three years of my life and that this has just capped it off.
"But, at the end of the day, there are no excuses. I have made a mistake and I will take whatever punishment I am given on the chin."
Windass admits his court appearance on Monday will raise serious questions over his current state of mind, and whether his drinking is getting out of control again.
He insists he does not have a drinking problem anymore but does admit he has had "bad days" when he has 'not wanted to be here'.
"When you come out of rehab, people think you are cured but you are not. It is a battle every day," he said.
"To be fair, in my defence, I haven't got a drink problem. I like to go out like anybody else does, but I only drink at weekends, at the football, and maybe have a beer on a Sunday. I am like anyone else. I haven't slipped.
"I am a bit down at the minute because of what I have done. I have let myself down.
"Because of that, just last week, I was nearly back where I was earlier in the year because I have let my kids down.
"They are great kids. Josh is 18 and on trial at Sheffield Wednesday at the moment and Jordan is 13 and he is at Bradford City.
"Now I can't even take my little boy to football in the car. I have had to find alternative arrangements for that. It's tough.
"They have had to put up with a lot.
"It has been tough for them because they were asking about their dad earlier in the year.
"I have put them through plenty of stuff, but hopefully when they get to being grown men, like Josh is now, they will learn lessons from where I've gone wrong.
"Some days, I don't want to be here, but I have two kids to think about and that pulls me through."
Now, Windass is hoping magistrates, and his family, friends and supporters, give him one more chance.
"I have made a huge mistake and there is nothing I can do about it other than go to court, take the punishment and move on," he said.
"I am not saying that just because I am Dean Windass I deserve special support or sympathy. I don't.
"I am trying to get back on track and this blip has given me a kick and has refocused me on what I need to do.
"It has given me the jolt I needed. I can categorically say it won't happen again.
"The past will never go away, but I can change the future, and I am trying to change who I am."