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Roker Roundup: Goalkeeper opens up on horrific depression battle when he was a Sunderland player

An ex-Sunderland goalkeeper has spoken openly and honestly about the horrific depression battle he suffered whilst he was on Wearside.

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Academy product on his battle with depression

Academy product James Talbot had a difficult 2018, starting with having a loan spell with Darlington ending early and then being released by Sunderland.

The 21-year-old had already been suffering due to his former Irish team-mate Dan Casey leaving Sunderland in the summer of 2017 and Talbot had a seven month break from football after his release, with the goalkeeper opening up on the battle with depression that he has suffered:

I had so many people asking me when I’d be going back to England but I was like ’No, I’m staying at home’.

‘Ah shut up out of that, you’re going back...’

That was the type of conversation I was having but I was getting sick of it. It sounds like I just gave up football but it wasn’t that.

I was in a really dark place. Football was part of that, but I lost myself as a person. I had so much confidence, swagger on the pitch, everything.

I went on-loan to Darlington to try get myself out of it. Then I was told I wasn’t going home for Christmas and I just felt everything coming down on me.

It was depression. I’m not afraid to say it. It was bad. At Sunderland, I had the best times of my life and the worst times of my life.

I know players in England who aren’t in the best of mindsets, who are playing professional football.

Billy Joe over there is thinking, ‘They’re living the life’. But it’s not easy over there but I’m busy now, working as a postman.

Living on my own didn’t help and I needed to get out of the club as I wasn’t interested on or off the pitch.

Things are looking up for Talbot now, as he has helped Bohemians to the top of the League of Ireland and has kept four clean sheets in the opening four games of the season:

I want to play for Bohs for the next 10 years if possible. I’m buzzing. I don’t want to go back to England.

I’m starting to get a bit more confident in myself but I’m not the confident lad I used to be.

I was playing with a swagger, I was pinging balls left, right and centre, I was coming for everything.

I’m still trying to get that swagger back. I know it’ll come and the Rovers game on Monday is after giving me such a big boost.

SAFC.com

Morgan on Ross

On-loan Celtic winger Lewis Morgan has started to find his feet at Sunderland after signing during the January transfer window.

The 22-year-old previously had the best spell of his career during his time at St Mirren, when he was also playing under the management of Jack Ross and James Fowler and Morgan says Ross has always got the best out of him:

He’s the manager who’s got the best out of me so far in my career.

He makes his players want to play for him and I have always had a good relationship with him and James Fowler.

He’s brought John Potter with him to Sunderland — and he’s a character!

The forward also explained he has made a few cameo appearances in the second series of the Netflix documentary Sunderland ‘Til I Die:

I’ve made a few cameo appearances so far.

It’s weird having cameras about so often but I enjoyed watching the first series so hopefully I come across well.

You can read the full interview with Morgan HERE.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Bruce on being retired by Sunderland

Steve Bruce ended his playing career back in 1998 after a game where Michael Bridges ran riot against the then Sheffield United player-manager, as Sunderland ran out 4-0 winners at Bramall Lane.

In an interview with the Telegraph ahead of tonight’s Steel City derby, Bruce reminisced about that difficult end to his playing days:

I was player-manager at Sheffield United, I played my last ever game for them. It was terrible. We lost 4-1, I think to Sunderland. Fancy that, a Geordie, being forced to retire because of a defeat to Sunderland.

I got a bit of stick off Dean Saunders. I tried to have a go at them after the game and he said, ‘You weren’t any better’.

You can’t manage the team, give out a bollocking. I can remember them looking at me in the dressing room and I could tell they were thinking, ‘You were f***ing awful, Steve’. That was it in a nutshell.

You can read the rest of the interview with Bruce in the Telegraph HERE.

West Ham United v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Former Black Cat on culture shock

Kim Heiselberg never managed to make a mark at Sunderland after he signed for the club back in 1997 but the former Danish youth international says moving to the club was something of a culture shock.

As you may remember from our ‘Whatever happened to...’ article on Heiselberg, he is now a very successful pig farmer but the Dane says that being so close to the very top level with Sunderland took the excitement away from the lower leagues:

It was almost a culture shock. It was a huge thing to be a part of professional football on a level where everyone lives and breathes the football - not just the club, but the whole city.

When you take the leap abroad and dream of getting through, then it is self-reliant when it does not.

When you have tried to be part of where it is really fun - when you have been so close to elite football at the very top level - yes, then the 2nd division is no longer so exciting.

He was recently confirmed as chairman of Danish Pig Producers, which he does on top of running his own farm that exports over 60,000 pigs per year, and he says that his football experience helps him in his current career:

As in the world of football, there are ups and downs in the pig industry. And the challenges I encountered in my football career, I think, can help to make me not shake my hand when I face challenges in the pig industry.

Kim Heiselberg shows off his pigs