Wayne Rooney has revealed how he would drink until he 'almost passed out' to escape his struggles at the peak of his career.
In a new podcast hosted by rugby league legend Rob Burrow, the Birmingham boss admitted he was in a 'low place for a few years' after using alcohol as his coping mechanism rather than asking for help.
'I've had many different challenges, both on the pitch and off the pitch, and my release was alcohol,' said ex-England and Manchester United captain Rooney when asked how he has dealt with tough times in his life.
'When I was in my early 20s, I'd spend a couple of days at home and wouldn't move out of the house and drink almost until I passed out.
'I didn't want to be around people because sometimes you feel embarrassed and sometimes you feel like you've let people down.
Wayne Rooney (left) has discussed his past drinking issues in a new podcast to Rob Burrow
Rooney was recently made the manager of Championship side Birmingham City
Rooney during his time at United in which he became captain and the club record goalscorer
'Ultimately, I didn't know how else to deal with it, so I chose alcohol to try and help me get through that.
'There were people there for me to speak to but I chose not to do that and tried to deal with it myself.
'When you do that and don't take the help and guidance of others, you can really be in a low place and I was for a few years with that.
'Thankfully now I am not afraid to go and speak to people over some issues which I may have.'
Rooney was speaking to Burrow and his wife Lindsey for the first episode of Seven: Rob Burrow, a new seven-part BBC podcast series where the ex-Leeds Rhinos star interviews sporting greats.
Jonny Wilkinson and Dame Kelly Holmes are among those who will feature in future episodes, with Burrow using eye-gaze technology to ask questions.
During their chat, Rooney hailed his 'inspiring' friend Burrow for how he is dealing with his battle with MND, and referenced his wife Coleen's sister Rosie, who died from Rett syndrome when she was 14.
'I know first-hand the impact this can have on yourself and the people closest to you,' said the 38-year-old.
Rob Burrow is an ex-Leeds Rhinos player who is interviewing seven of the best British sports stars
'Everyone has to change the way of living and I had that with my sister-in-law who suffered not the same illness, but something as severe.
'Your energy and you staying strong really helps everyone around you. I will always be here, and your family and close friends will always be there, to help you with whatever you need.'
Rooney has known Burrow since he presented the Leeds Rhinos players with their shirts ahead of their Grand Final win over Warrington at Old Trafford in 2012.
Explaining how he came to support the Rhinos, he said: 'I really started getting into rugby league when I was 17, 18.
'I remember thinking there was no way I was going to support St Helens, Warrington, Wigan because they are all fake Scousers!
'I was thinking, "What team am I going to support?" and I remember watching the Rhinos play and I was gripped.
'I knew it was controversial, playing for Manchester United and that rivalry with Leeds in football, but just from watching that first game, I was gripped to them as players and as a team.'
Burrow shone for Leeds, England and Great Britain during a trophy-laden rugby league career
As one of his seven questions, Burrow pushed Rooney on who his best and worst team-mates were during his career.
'Best team-mate, I'd probably say Darren Fletcher,' said Rooney. 'My worst team-mate, there are a lot more than you'd probably think! On the pitch, the toughest one was Nani. He was frustrating to play with.'
Rooney was appointed Birmingham boss last month and has lost three and drawn one of his first four games.
Asked by Burrow if he would rather still be playing, he replied: 'You always wish you were still out there, but I think I've put a little bit too much weight on now, so I don't think I'd be able to get out there at the minute!
'I love being a manager. I love trying to give my knowledge and my experience of playing at the highest level for 20 years.
'In terms of putting my ideas across and getting the team to play the way I want them to play, it's a challenge but I've always been up for a challenge. It's the next best thing if you can't play.'
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