08-Feb-2018 10:23:29 | The Guardian
Leon McKenzie, the footballer-turned boxer who tried to kill himself while playing for Charlton, hopes sharing his story can help other young men who are suffering in silence
A film by Copa90 of the Guardian Sport Network
Leon McKenzie was playing for Norwich City in the Premier League and seemed to have the world at his feet. On the pitch he was scoring against Manchester United in front of 25,000 adoring fans at Carrow Road, but inside he was going through one of the most difficult periods of his life. He had come a long way since scoring on his debut as a 17-year-old for Crystal Palace in the second tier, so he tried to keep his mind at bay, play the role of successful footballer and cope.
McKenzie had a long and varied career, scoring in all four English professional leagues in his 18 seasons as a footballer. By the time he ended up at Charlton Athletic in the twilight of his career, with years of injuries taking their toll, it all became too much. As a Croydon lad back in his neck of the woods, he was desperate to do well for the club and there was a lot of pressure on him to succeed. Another injury setback prompted his manager to ask him whether it might be time to hang up his boots. His boss meant in the best possible way but it proved to be McKenzie’s breaking point and culminated in him attempting to kill himself.