Thorpe finally sees light at the end of the tunnel

James Ducker



Daily Telegraph

Sport | Football

It is not easy listening to Tom Thorpe bravely relive the five years he lost to acute depression, a period when, in his words, he was reduced to little more than a shell of the person who had been tipped for such big things at Manchester United. Captain of a United side containing Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard who would go on to win the FA Youth Cup in 2011, Thorpe had also lifted the European Under-17 Championship the year before with England. A senior United debut would follow. The future was bright. By late 2017, Thorpe was plying his trade in India and falling out of love with the game. He returned home and more horrendous luck with injuries that had been the scourge of his career would catapult him into a downward spiral from which he has only recently emerged. “There’s the phrase ‘you can see light at the end of the tunnel’ and the natural human response is if you see the light you keep going,” Thorpe explains. “With depression, there is no light. There is nothing. “So, it was a case of complete shutdown. Didn’t want to see anyone, didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to do anything.” Thorpe sought refuge via Sporting Chance, the charity set up by Tony Adams to help professional sportsmen and women battling mental health issues. The opportunity, then, to take part in United’s programme was not one he was going to pass up, not least when it coincided with another serious knee injury, suffered while playing just his second game for Stalybridge Celtic in the Northern Premier League West Division. Now 30, Thorpe is keen to return to football as soon as he can but is already thinking about what life might look like once his career is over and is interested in helping players facing difficulties, mental or otherwise. “I’m working with Sporting Chance now to help educate young lads and try to make it less of a stigma in football,” Thorpe says.