Paul McGrath Photo by: STEVE LEATH

Irish sports hero fears for his life as drinking takes over


Paul McGrath Photo by: STEVE LEATH

Irish football hero, Paul McGrath, fears that he is losing his battle with his addiction to pills and alcohol. A hero of the 1994 world cup in the U.S and by some estimates Ireland's greatest ever football player he believes he’s trying to win an impossible battle.

McGrath, now retired, played central defender for Aston Villa and Manchester United. He was a long time member of the Republic of Ireland national team playing in their first ever international tournament, UEFA Euro 1988, as well as the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups.

In a brutally honest interview with the Irish Independent McGrath confessed that he is turning into a person that he does not like.

“I'm upsetting people…I don't like the way I've been acting lately.

“I'm genuinely trying to fight a winning battle, but I'm nearly certain I'm not winning it."

McGrath admitted that he had been to “something like 13 or 14 rehabs” but had been back drinking within weeks.

He said “I can't do too many more [rehabs]. "A lot of the fight is gone out of me.

"I seem forever drawn to this thing of 'I'll just get one last bottle from somewhere and that'll be it'. Then I'll take one tablet too many, or a drink on a table too many, and I lose the plot.

"That's what hurting me at the moment because I was told that this is what could happen but I never thought I'd be up in front of a court for assaulting someone or taking a car."

Recently McGrath went to court following a drunken driving rap and lost his license for three years. He said that it was only due to the kindness of his neighbor that he was not charged for the worst of what happened that night.

The 65-year-old neighbor came to McGrath’s house and said he would not press charges adding “You know, you were one of my heroes!”

"When this man had the kindness to come up to my house and say the things he said, I just thought this can't be right any more,” said McGrath.

"Something snapped in me that night that led to the court case and I'm very concerned about that, very much so. I mean I've been warned so many times in rehab that this doesn't get better, it gets worse and here I am now, knowing that it is getting worse."

Although he had a short period of 14 months when he did not take pills or alcohol he said that he has felt like he has been slipping back over the last two years. “I've been taking things for so long that my brain is so used to the chemicals I feel I almost can't function without them."

Four years ago McGrath released a brutally honest autobiography, “Back from the Brink”, which became the most successful Irish sports book in history. This week will be promoting his new DVD around Dublin.


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