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Originally from Fraserburgh, Scotland, Toby McKillop, 38, became homeless for 14 months after fighting drug addiction for 20 years. Toby explains, “The last few years of my life have been absolute hell.”

Only two years ago, at New Year, Toby found himself homeless and desperate for a roof over his head, having lost everything—his home, his partner, his family. He was in a stranger’s house, surrounded by unconscious drug users. Despondent and alone, Toby went upstairs to look for a place to hang himself—and end it all for good.

The thought of leaving his young daughter Molly, then only five years old, without a dad, made Toby stop. He knew he had hit his rock bottom. It was time to get help.

In September 2013, after a struggle to find funding for treatment, Toby finally secured a place at a rehabilitation centre in Glasgow and began their initial four-week detox. A six-month residential course and an education program concentrated on coping mechanisms and confronting negative behaviors followed.

Photo Elaine LivingstoneToby completed the program the following March, but within a month he had relapsed. He overdosed and was lucky to survive. He went back to rehab and, at the same time, joined Homeless World Cup national partner Street Soccer Scotland.

“It was Street Soccer Scotland that helped me stayed focused, get fit, and feel good about myself. I was committed to take part and I became a part of something positive. I wanted to make it to Chile.”

Focused on his training for the 2014 Homeless World Cup in Santiago, Toby slowly regained the trust of his ex-partner and his parents. His proudest moment was when his family allowed his daughter, Molly, now age 7, to stay with him in Glasgow a few weeks before the trip to Chile.

“The Homeless World Cup has completely changed my life. It’s very hard to explain what it is that the whole experience gives you. Something changes inside. The way you see yourself. You are positive. Everything is now a possibility for you and you know what’s important in life. Life, now, is all about building my relationship with Molly. Everything I do now, staying clean and living life, I do it for Molly.”

In the weeks since returning to Scotland, Toby has spoken publicly many times of his experience, and he admits, it can be quite emotional. Toby is now focusing his future on helping others. He is currently volunteering at his rehab centre and researching college courses on community, learning, and development, particularly those with an emphasis on mental health, addiction, and care in the community.


Photos: Elaine Livingstone


Also read: FIFPro partner of Homeless World Cup