Ex-professional footballer Liam Hughes from the Fens tells of recovery from drink and drug addiction

PUBLISHED: 11:17 22 January 2020

Former professional footballer Liam Hughes spoke to students at Cambridge Regional College as part of a mental health event. Hughes (right) is pictured with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Chris Mann. Picture: INSTAGRAM/WAND.TALKS

Former professional footballer Liam Hughes spoke to students at Cambridge Regional College as part of a mental health event. Hughes (right) is pictured with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Chris Mann. Picture: INSTAGRAM/WAND.TALKS

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A former professional footballer from the Fens has spoken of his drink and drug addiction that led to two suicide attempts.

It is now a year since booking into rehab and young dad Liam Hughes is proud to be clean and helping others.

"It's easy to think why me?" Liam told students at Cambridge Regional College. "But it is better to think what can I learn from this and how can I use it for positive good?"

A former student at the Cambridge college, Liam is touring with his newly formed organisation WAND - Wisdom And New Direction - raising awareness of mental health, anxiety and addiction.

The former Cambridge United footballer is giving talks and workshops, using his own experiences, to help others.

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Liam, who lived in Chatteris and then March when he played for United from 2008 to 2016, said: "I am a 6 ft 4 bloke, who is prepared to share my vulnerability and emotions and the story of what I've been through, to empower others who are struggling.

"My talks go through the highs and the lows, it is also light-hearted, but underneath is a serious message of support. People think mental health is just depression but it is also anxiety, addiction, self-harm, insomnia and more.

"I hope my talks can start a journey of recovery for other people."

Liam told of his battle with drink and drug addiction and how, despite turmoil behind the scenes, he managed to bag man of the match awards and strike winning goals.

He spoke of turning up to training sessions drunk and of two suicide attempts.

"Trauma is a big gateway," Liam said. "There needs to be more understanding of the brain's chemical imbalance. However, addicts will always find a reason to carry on and say they are not that bad or compare themselves to others who are worse. At the end of the day, anyone suffering in any way needs to look at themselves and admit they need help."

"So many people are pushing a self-destruct button. I was. But with the right words from another person who has walked a similar journey, it could just be the turning point that makes a difference." Liam's talk was in conjunction with Cambridge United FC to raise awareness.

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