Fraser Franks, a former Chelsea youth prospects, has spoken out about his “terrible experience” with alcoholism following his forced football retirement.
After being released by the Blues in 2007, the defender from Hammersmith went on to play for teams including Wimbledon, Luton, and Stevenage.
Then, in 2019, while still at Newport County, his professional career came to an abrupt stop as he received a heart condition diagnosis.
Franks was forced to hang up his boots at the young age of just 28.
And he acknowledged using booze to cope with the pain in an interview with Sky Sports.
Franks said: “Retiring was a bit of a traumatic experience. From the age of nine, my world revolved around a match day and performing on the football pitch. It was a shock and I just didn’t know how to deal with it.”
“I didn’t know what I was going to do going forward and my wife was just about to give birth for the first time.”
“I was worried, I was anxious and I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t switch off that nagging, chatterbox voice in my head.”
“I’d never drunk at home before, but one day, I realised I didn’t have training the next day, so I could have a couple of beers. And I got into that sort of pattern.”
“When I had a couple of beers, I felt that voice switched off a little bit more. I thought if I had two or three beers that would make me sleep better, I wouldn’t worry as much, I wouldn’t be as anxious.”
“It became a bit of a medication. Eventually those two or three beers ended up being six or seven, getting drunk, doing things I regret, being sneaky and taking me away from the person that I wanted to be, but it was all because I was trying to escape my feelings and I couldn’t.”
He went on to say: “I was just in a cycle of drinking, feeling ashamed, feeling terrible and drinking again.”
Franks calls his relationship with booze a “crutch” in a column for “Alcohol Change UK”.
He was reported to have broken down in tears in front of his mother and wife and admitted to disguising how much he was drinking.
And now that he thinks back on it, he believes he was likely in a “depressive state” at the time.
Franks, though, will commemorate a year of sobriety on August 1 this year.
Additionally, he said that Tony Adams, a former Arsenal player and founder of Sporting Chance, was instrumental in helping him achieve sobriety.
He said to Sky Sports: “I either had to continue pressing that self-destruct button and do what I was doing – which was going to damage me – or take charge and stop drinking alcohol.”
“It took me a couple of goes. I would try it, last about two weeks and then give in. I got the help and support I needed; I spoke to the PFA and they appointed me a counsellor with Sporting Chance.”
“I tried counselling when I first retired. I said I wanted a man who understood football and they gave me this guy who I didn’t get on with, so I thought counselling was not for me.”
“Then I tried it again with the alcohol and they gave me a woman in her 60s that used to drink quite a lot and I thought she was brilliant.”
“She just changed my perception on counselling and I had someone that I could unload to. She had some really good advice in those early stages of stopping drinking.”
Fraser George Franks, an English former professional footballer, was born on November 22, 1990. He played defense for AFC Wimbledon, Luton Town, Stevenage, and Newport County in the Football League.
Franks was chosen for the England national C team in June 2013 and earned his debut in a 6-1 victory over Bermuda.
In a 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic U21 on November 19, 2013, Franks scored his first goal for his country while serving as the team’s captain for the first time.
Before losing his eligibility as a result of Luton Town’s elevation to the Football League, Franks went on to win five caps for the England C squad and served as the club’s captain four times.
Stacey McClean, a former member of the band S Club 8, is married to Franks.
Franks struggled with alcohol after quitting football early, but after receiving counseling from the Sporting Chance Clinic, he became sober on August 1 of that year.
Franks co-owns mentorship business B5 Consultancy with attorney Matt Himsworth and serves as an ambassador for Alcohol Change UK.