A DEINIOLEN man whose Premier League football career was cut short by injury has told of his battle with the bottle.
Football pundit Malcolm Allen was making a name for himself with Newcastle United and Wales before a knee injury forced him to retire in 1998, aged just 28.
In the emotionally-charged S4C documentary Malcolm Allen: Cyfle Arall (Another Chance), the former Bangor City youth player open his heart about how his demons nearly led to self-destruction.
He said: “My two passions in life at the time were drinking and playing football and ultimately I just couldn’t handle both. One passion took over the other."
"It was not really in my character to come clean about my problems and ask for help. I was living in a cocoon where everyone was a tough guy.
"We were in a world where you didn’t talk about these things. I should have had the courage to put my hands up and admit that I couldn’t cope anymore.”
Malcolm's story echoes the experience of many other footballers who have been led astray by the pressures associated with being a top professional footballer.
Contributors to the programme, made by Rondo Media, include Malcolm's former bosses Kevin Keegan and Mick McCarthy, former team mate Iwan Roberts and cycling coach Sir David Brailsford, who also grew up in Deiniolen.
Watford manager Graham Taylor and Tom Walley, who comes from Caernarfon, kept a beady eye on Malcom in his early playing days.
Graham Taylor said: “There’s so much in modern football that can side-track players. If you’re not careful, it can turn you into a celebrity.
"There was always a little worry amongst us that Malcolm might be side-tracked.”
The programme looks at how a young lad from a slate quarry village showed immense football talent from a very young age.
Malcolm and those closest to him tell how he was tempted to drink heavily and kept bad company from a relatively young age as a footballer.
He concedes that this led to the breakdown of his marriage and put a strain on his relationship with his children.
Now, after being on the wrong side of the law a number of times, Malcolm has now turned over a new leaf with the help of his current partner, Rhian Griffiths.
He said: "What I've learned is that time and love cost nothing to anybody in life and time and love have played a big part in how I have rebuilt my life.
"I used to keep everything locked inside until it all came out like a ball of fire, but I’m not like that anymore.”
Malcolm Allen: Cyfle Arall will be shown on S4C at 9.30pm on Thursday, September 4. Catch it online at www.s4c.co.uk/clic.