Former All Black Zac Guildford has opened up to Woman’s Day on the suicidal thoughts that forced him back to New Zealand following a tormented rugby career plagued by depression and drug dependence.
Guildford, who now lives in Hamilton, was offered an opportunity to play at Nevers in France late last year, and after originally ‘jumping at it’, turned it down due to his mental health.
“I thought I’d resurrect my professional career and iron out all the stuff I’d done wrong in the past,” Guildford told Woman’s Day. “But the pressure was too much. I was having suicidal thoughts. I knew if I didn’t leave the country then and get home to my support, I wouldn’t be here any more.”
Guildford was a member of the All Blacks squad that won the 2011 World Cup but his career nosedived afterwards because of issues with alcohol and mental health.
Guildford said the tragic passing of his father in 2009, who suffered a heart attack in the stands while watching him play for New Zealand in the Under 20 World Cup final in Tokyo, was the ‘tipping point’ of his troubled career.
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Guildford said he still hadn’t processed his father’s death by the time the Rugby World Cup came around in 2011.
Woman’s Day reported Guildford developed a secret thousand-dollar-a-week drug habit while playing for Clermont Auvergne in France in 2015, where he was caught with cocaine in his system and had his contract terminated.
Guildford now works as a teaching aide for teens with intellectual disabilities and said he is finally feeling happy.
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In February, the 10-test international winger was rushed to hospital in Phuket, Thailand after being involved in a motorbike accident while celebrating his 30th birthday. He was reportedly riding pillion on a Harley Davidson when he fell off the back and suffered severe grazes to his back, hand and backside.
Although now living in Hamilton, he was not selected for this year’s Waikato provincial side. But he was back in the public eye in August when appearing on Celebrity Treasure Island.
This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.
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