A former Man United academy star has revealed the mental health struggles that caused him to leave the sport for five years.
United’s FA Youth Cup winning squad from 2011 is one that has become well-known amongst Red Devils fans, with a number of first-team stars featuring in the match.
Among the United team that day were the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Ravel Morrison and Michael Keane – who all went on to have established careers.
However, none of the aforementioned players were chosen to be United’s skipper that day. Instead, the honour was given to promising centre-back, Tom Thorpe.
Thorpe, 30, was once one of the most highly-rated prospects emerging from United’s academy and led the team for their FA Youth Cup triumph in 2011.
Tom Thorpe (L) celebrates Manchester United’s FA Youth Cup win with Paul Pogba (middle) and Jesse Lingard (R)
The defender, now 30, poses after signing for National League side Macclesfield this year
You’d imagine that someone who captained a side with such superstars would go on to have a fruitful career within the sport, however that was not the case for Thorpe.
The 30-year-old went on to endure a number of struggles, both on and off the pitch, and left football for five years before returning to sign for Macclesfield this year.
After failing to make a name for himself at United, Thorpe moved to Rotherham in 2015. However, he failed to make an impression there and decided to join Indian Super League side ATK two years later.
Reflecting on that move, Thorpe told BBC Sport: ‘Looking back, it was a case of me wanting to just get away from it all. My enjoyment in football had just gone completely and India was an excuse to escape that.’
At this point, Thorpe had struggled with multiple injuries in his career. Two ankle injuries at Birmingham had scuppered a loan spell for him there.
And his luck didn’t improve in India as, shortly after joining, he developed a hernia problem and would soon require surgery to fix it.
As if things weren’t bad enough, Thorpe’s surgery did not go to plan and it required him to have another routine for the same issue.
Thorpe made one senior appearance for Man United during a 2-1 win over West Ham in 2014
And, after that was solved, he suffered a freak accident in the gym that left him needing surgery on his elbow.
‘That was major catalyst for me going under and into a really dark place,’ Thorpe said about the injuries.
‘It wasn’t a pleasant experience and it’s something that had a huge impact not only on my life but on my parents as well. I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be if it wasn’t for them.
‘Even living in the same house, there were days when I wouldn’t want to speak a word to them. I just felt empty’.
Following his issues off the pitch, Thorpe took a five-year hiatus from the sport and only made his return after signing for Macclesfield in February this year.
He’s since made four appearances for the National League side but admitted that he had ‘no aim of getting back into football’.
The likes of Ravel Morrison (bottom row, second from the left) and Will Keane (top row, second from the right) were captained by Thorpe at United
‘Initially it was a case of ‘I don’t want to play again’,’ Thorpe said. ‘I was done and I was more than happy to just walk away. There was never a time period of seeing how I feel to get better. There was no aim of getting back into football.
‘But there was the stress of: ‘If I’m not going to play football, what else am I going to do?’ That in itself was enough to fill me with anxiety. I was fortunate that somebody from Macclesfield contacted me and things went from there joining them.’
‘I’ll play football as long as I enjoy it. If that stops, then it’s not something that I want to continue doing. I’m not putting any pressure on myself as to where I aspire to go to. It was my enjoyment at Macclesfield FC that made me want to start playing again. I’m relaxed and I’m happy there.
‘When I previously played, I cared too much about what the wrong people thought. I’ve come to realise your mental health is much more important than anything else.’
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Sports Event Casino Handicap Description
|PK||0||It means not giving in to each other, and winning 1 point wins all.|
|0-50||0/0.5||Indicates that when the handicap team is tied with the transferee team, the team betting on the handicap loses 50%.|
|0 loss||0.5||Indicates that when the handicap team is tied with the transferee team, the team betting on the handicap loses.|
|1+50||0.5/1||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap wins 50% and wins all 2 points.|
|1 level||1||Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the two teams will tie and win by 2 points.|
|1-50||1/1.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 2 points.|
|1 loss||1.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins by 2 points.|
|2+50||1.5/2||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap wins 50% and wins all 3 points.|
|2 flat||2||Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the two teams will tie and win all 3 points.|
|2 losses||2/2.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 3 points.|
|3+50||2.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins all 3 points.|
|3 losses||2.5/3||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap wins 50%, and all 4 points win.|
|3 levels||3||Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the two teams will tie and win all 4 points.|
|3-50||3/3.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 4 points.|
|3 losses||3.5||When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins all 4 points.|
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