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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul Shaughnessy

Clare Shine says she 'took full advantage of drink and drugs' during darkest days

As a young footballer, Clare Shine appeared to have it all.

The gifted Corkwoman received her first Irish international call-up at just 13 — but life in the spotlight brought expectation and pressure to perform.

Shine would go on to play in the 2010 Under-17 World Cup and scored in the 2014 Under-19 European Championships, as well having the senior side come calling.

Just three years later, though, Shine had become addicted to drugs, alcohol and was suffering psychologically.

The Douglas native featured for the aforementioned Ireland underage sides while also playing camogie and ladies football for Cork.

“For me to look back now, I took on a lot at such a young age,” said Glasgow City star Shine (27).

“There was a lot going on in such short period of time. I think I was just pulled and dragged in every direction.

“I didn’t look after myself and it took its toll. I completely fell out of love for the game.

“All I wanted to do was spend time with my friends and to go out.

Clare Shine (©INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy)

“Consuming alcohol and not looking after my diet is something which took over my life.’’

Her book Scoring Goals in the Dark, written with Gareth Maher, was released this week.

“It’s really exciting actually,” continued Shine, who has won seven senior caps since her 2015 debut.

“The process has been quite long, so for it finally to be on the bookshelves is something that’s hard to explain, seeing your face on the front of a book, but it’s really exciting and I’m just hoping my experiences can help as many people as possible.

“I’ve been tagged in a lot of tweets and on Instagram.

“It’s been overwhelming at times. It’s really hard to put into words how it makes me feel.

“Obviously two years ago when I went through my relapse and my suicide attempt, I didn’t ever believe that this was something that could become possible.

“So for it to finally be here and for me to finally get the words out on paper is huge.

“It has been huge for me, but it’s been a massive process in terms of having to relive certain dark moments. It has been quite tough at times.

“But it’s been good for me to be able to go back and close the chapter on hopefully the tail end of some horrible experiences and that I have a big and bright future ahead of me and take those experiences with me and, going forward, help as many people as I can.”

Shine recalls what led her to her toughest days.

“I felt like if I was to give up the drink I would lose a lot of friends, I would lose the social aspect of my life and I wasn’t willing to give that up or to sacrifice that,” added Shine.

“I was never someone who confronted a hangover, I just kept going.

Clare Shine (©INPHO/Tom Maher)

“I was always the first person in the pub and the last person there, it didn’t matter were my friends there or not.

“It just got worse then. I was lying about where I was or what I was doing.

“Then suicidal thoughts would come rushing back.

“There was a period where I wasn’t playing football and drink was my priority.

“Then that’s when negative self-thoughts came in, ‘what’s my purpose?’, ‘what’s my identity?’ and ‘who am I without football?’

“I felt like football was my identity for such a long time.

“It got really severe and that’s when I took full advantage of the drink and drugs.

“And it’s something which I wasn’t in control of.

“I’m nearly two years sober and I can still see the impact it’s had.

“I don’t think people see the long-term effects when you’re finally trying to come off drugs. It’s horrific.

“It can really tear you into a place of discomfort and interferes with all your relationships and you can’t speak to someone on a intimate level because you can’t think straight.

“There were so many nights where I didn’t come home, woke up in a place that I didn’t know, lost my phone, lost my keys and had no money.

“If I took money off my mother to pay for a taxi, I’d deny taking it. I was a compulsive liar.”

During her time at Cork City, she would constantly cough up blood.

“There was period of time I could barely breath going up the stairs, let alone play a football match.

“My best friend, Amanda Budden, stepped up and spoke to the management of Cork City and told them that I had been turning up for games under the influence and something need to change.”

This was a turning point for her.

“I got my foot in a drug and alcohol centre,” said Shine.

“It was interesting. You meet a lot of people from different walks of life.

“My sponsor, Andrew, was unbelievable, I had a really good connection with him.

“He had designed an exercise and well-being programme where we were going out for runs and I was in the gym.

“I was just trying to get into a normal routine without drugs and drink.

“After my first suicide attempt, I had really started to take it seriously. I had gotten my first senior start and then three weeks later I was living in a relapse that I used to have nightmares over.

“It just shows how quickly things can change and addiction is something you don’t mess around with because it can really ruin your life.’’

Shine believes education around the area of drugs is something that needs to be spoken about more.

It’s now an exciting time for Shine, with Glasgow City having again qualified for the Champions League.

“I’m just looking at getting stability in my life and getting a run of games,” she concluded.

“Anything can happen when you have the right mindset.”

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