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Ray Wilkins, one of England's most respected football figures, admits he suffered from depression during his playing and coaching career.

The 57-year-old's revelation comes as results of a new mental health study, authored by FIFPro's Chief Medical Officer Vincent Gouttebarge, are set to be announced in March. This study has been conducted among both current and former players from six countries measuring the extent of several mental health disorders (among which depression) within professional football.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Wilkins said he "slipped into a deep hole" following his shock departure from his coaching role at Chelsea in 2010. "That was my darkest time."

During his playing days, Wilkins said he took Valium to cope with the pressure of being made captain of Chelsea when only a teenager. "I did have a problem when I was made captain at 18," he says. 'I was on Valium. I wasn't quite handling the situation as well as I could have. The doctor would give me Valium every Friday night. I think I felt responsible for the team. It helped me sleep but it calmed me down as well, because I was playing appallingly at the time.

'Looking back, I guess it was a bit of an indicator. I suppose I've had three bouts of depression in my life, and that was the first one. At the time I just saw it as a bit of a tough period that passed as things improved in my career."

It was when Wilkins approached the end of his playing career, which included 84 caps for England, that the difficulty of transitioning to life after football started to sink in. He was a journeyman, a midfielder who played into his forties and enjoyed spells with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, AC Milan, Rangers, Paris Saint Germain and Queens Park Rangers.

"I just don't cope well with rejection. I had depression when I left QPR."

"I was lucky enough to play until I was 40, 41. But when time decided I could no longer continue I struggled in a way I'm sure a lot of sportsmen do. It's hard to replace what sport gives you."

"After QPR I suffered badly with depression and it had an impact on the whole family. But I didn't take any medication at that stage. I've been on medication for depression for the past two years but back then I saw the doctor and then simply battled on."

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For more information, and to reach FIFPro's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vincent Goutterbarge on any matter relating to the Health and Safety of professional footballers, please contact the FIFPro Communications department.

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