Tony Adams mental health – Strictly star on his scary breakdown
Tony Adams hid his mental health problems for years – but is now using Strictly Come Dancing as an opportunity to spread awareness.
The former footballer and manager, 55, now talks openly about his previous battles with drink, drugs and depression.
In fact, as well as taking part in Strictly 2022, Tony Adams MBE is celebrating a remarkable anniversary.
Tony Adams talks mental health battle
Former England and Arsenal player Tony revealed the real reason he’s doing Strictly is to spread a message of positivity.
He told ED! at a recent press launch that he’s got much to be thankful for.
When asked why he was taking part in Strictly Come Dancing 2022, he said: “I’ve not had a drink or drug for 26 years.
“My message is that you can do anything you want to do.”
He went on to explain that he’s also hoping to have lots of fun!
Tony added: “I run a mental health business and a mental health charity – an addiction charity – and I’m here to have some fun.
“I had a heart condition when I was 49, and a mental breakdown, and I went ‘hold on a minute’.
“I was working too hard in China [as sport director of Chinese Super League club Chongqing Lifan FC].
“The salary was fantastic, but it was doing a lot to my head.
“So now I’m more relaxed and taking it easy.
“I’m concerned that I’m not going to be on the golf course as much!
“But I’ll be dancing, which is good for my head and good for my mental health.
“We’ve used dancing in rehab for 22 years now.”
What happened to Tony Adams during mental health battle?
Tony Adams spent his entire playing career of 19 years as a centre back at Arsenal.
He is considered one of the greatest Arsenal players of all time by the club’s own fans and was included in the Football League 100 Legends.
But during his successful career, he was fighting mental health demons.
His battle with alcoholism started in the mid-1980s.
In May 1990, he crashed his Ford Sierra into a wall in Rayleigh.
Police breathalysed him and found his blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal drink-drive limit.
He spent a brief spell in jail, and subsequently decided to turn his life around and sobered up in 1996 – 26 years ago.
However, Tony went on to suffer anxiety, depression and loneliness during a tough mental health battle.
He has written about his struggles in two bestselling autobiographies, called Addicted, and Sober: Football. My Story. My Life.
Upon retirement, the dad-of-six went into coaching and management.
He recently launched his new venture, SIX MHS, which delivers Mental Health and Addictions services to non-sportspeople and non-sport’s organisations.
He remains a patron of four other additional charities, NACOA, Forward Trust, Saving Faces, School Home Support and has started the charity, 6 Addiction, for people who can’t afford private mental health services.
Speaking to the Metro in 2020, Tony said: “That first asking for help is so important.
“For me, it was the moment of surrender, and it was the moment of acceptance.
“I just went, ‘I can’t do this anymore’.
“Luckily, I shared it with the right person and I accelerated into a life of therapy and exercise, and it’s been joyful.
“Years down the road, my head is clear and my heart is one of love.
“It’s a very beautiful place to be in.”
He’s also free of the “emotional crisis that bought him to his knees”.
What other footballers have been on Strictly Come Dancing?
Footballers don’t have a brilliant track record on Strictly.
Peter Schmeichel was the first footballer to appear on the show, back in 2006.
He was partnered with Erin Boag and lasted five weeks.
Next up was John Barnes in series five.
He lasted nine weeks finishing seventh with partner Nicole Cutler.
Peter Shilton took part in the eighth season of Strictly.
He and partner Erin Boag were the third couple booted off.
In 2011, Robbie Savage finishing in sixth place with Ola Jordan.
David James was the fifth footballer on the show, but exited in the fifth week alongside partner Nadiya Bychkova.
Alex Scott was the first female footballer to go on Strictly Come Dancing in the 17th series in 2019.
She finished in fifth place lasting 11 weeks with Neil Jones.
So how does Tony Adams rate his chances?
He told us: “I’m part of the Adams family [with Jayde and Kaye] so you have to keep us in until Halloween.
“Then you can vote us out.”
Read more: Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse makes sad confession about her weight
Watch Tony Adams on Strictly Come Dancing from Friday September 23 2022 at 7pm. The first live show follows on Saturday September 24 at 6.45pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
What do you think of the Strictly line-up this year? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.