Friday, September 29, 2023

Arsenal legend Perry Groves bravely opens up about breakdown and alcohol abuse on talkSPORT

Perry Groves has bravely spoken out about his battles with alcoholism.

The Arsenal legend – who scored 22 goals in 169 games for the Gunners between 1986 and 1992, winning two league titles – joined talkSPORT to discuss his journey to getting sober this year and his time in rehab after suffering a breakdown.

Groves bravely spoke out about his battle with alcoholismtalkSPORT

But talkSPORT pundit Groves is also hoping his story will encourage others suffering in the same way to seek help.

Speaking on Tuesday’s White and Jordan show, the 58-year-old said: “I have to say, I never thought it would happen to me. I never thought I would have the complete mental and physical breakdown that I had.

“I thought long and hard about it. [Jim White] is about 12 years [sober], I’m seven months sober today.”

As White congratulated him on his milestone, Groves continued: “I’m 58 [years old] now, I think this is the biggest achievement I’ve ever had because I thought long and hard about coming on [air to speak about it].

“But the reason I’ve come on is if it helps one person out there who listens to this, my story and they reach out for help, that’s what I did.

“As I say, I was completely shot, mentally and physically, had a massive breakdown, I was in denial, I didn’t for a million years think it was anything to do with alcohol.”

Groves says he got support from a former Arsenal teammate, ex-Gunners captain Tony Adams, who was also previously addicted to alcohol.

“Then when I did I was lucky enough to go into Sporting Chance, Tony Adam’s rehab centre that he started in 2000,” he explained.

Groves won two First Division titles and the League Cup during his time at ArsenalGetty

Groves has regularly appeared on talkSPORT since his retirement

“Then I realised I had a severe drink problem, I am an alcoholic and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Now I’ve been made more aware of what it is, it’s actually a disease.

“It’s a disease whether you’re a drug addict, a gambling addict, or whatever addiction you have. If you have alcoholism, it’s your brain, you don’t work in the same way a normal person does.”

The former Colchester United star says he didn’t drink alcohol every day, so never considered he could be addicted to it, considering his previous perception of what an alcoholic was only matched that description.

But it was the morning after Groves had been on air with talkSPORT for a Premier League game that he suffered his breakdown, with the ex-Gunners man having to cancel coming on another show that day.

That was the moment he then reached out for support.

He continued: “The reason I’ve come on air is because no matter how bad – I’ve had mental health problems as well – no matter how bad you think the situation is, or how desperate you feel, there is help.

“If you talk to somebody and you reach out, there is help. It doesn’t matter how bad you think the situation is, you can reach out to the Samaritans, whether you think you’ve got an addiction, you can go to AA meetings all around the country, you can just walk in there.

“The NHS were brilliant with me as well. There’s help there for everybody, but if I didn’t go in – and I was lucky enough to go into Sporting Chance – for rehab for 28 days, I don’t think I’d be here.

“I genuinely think they saved my life, because I was going nowhere. I had nothing.”

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