Football: Full-time treatment for Collymore

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The Independent Online
STAN COLLYMORE is to undergo full-time treatment for clinical depression. It almost certainly means the Aston Villa striker has played his last game of the season.

The Villa manager, John Gregory, had talks with Collymore about his situation on Monday, after which it was decided that focusing totally on conquering his off-field problems was the best course of action.

Yesterday, Gregory said: "I do not expect to see him back this season. He won't be training with us at all, as we have decided to send him back full-time to the clinic. It is a decision that we have reached after discussions with everyone."

Collymore has started Villa's last three games, but Gregory added: "He should have full-time treatment to overcome what is a particularly difficult problem. There is no date set for his return, but I don't expect to see him until after the season is finished."

A leading consultant, Dr Cosmo Hallstrom, predicted yesterday that Collymore will make a full recovery. But Dr Hallstrom, a fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the player would be more likely to regain full fitness, both mental and physical, if there were more stability in his life.

"Footballers live in unreal worlds... all barriers and boundaries are lost," Dr Hallstrom said. "Normal constraints of social interaction are gone - every time you go out for a drink, there is a photographer following you or someone else is watching you. You're never sure if people are being nice to you because they like you. They live a very unreal life."

Gregory has previously made it clear he would rather sell the player than risk further unsettling his dressing-room.

But he insists the decision to dispense with his services for the rest of the season was not prompted by Collymore's reported criticism of the team's defence following Sunday's 3-0 home defeat against Chelsea.

"People can think what they like and I can't stop them." Gregory said. "But I've explained the reasons why this decision has been taken and that's the end of it."

Dr Hallstrom added that Collymore's problems were down to the stresses and strains of modern-day football. But he insisted that earning a huge salary like Collymore's was no security against the illness, as some might claim.

"Having loads of money is no guarantee of protection against depression, which hits the high and the low," Dr Hallstrom said. "There is a distinction between depression and unhappiness.

"At one end of the scale is unhappiness when things go wrong for you. But at the other end is depression, which is associated with a loss of function and that is very common. One in 10 people will suffer depression in their lives.

"Collymore's problem is probably stress-related. Stress is a major factor in clinical depression. The symptoms are loss of sleep, irritability, drinking and poor performance. Stress is very common. You need to go away and get some rest and catch up. You need to stop the world and get off."