Former England and Premier League goalkeeper David James has told William Hill's podcast, Up Front with Simon Jordan, that when he sought out psychological help in his time at Liverpool, he was told that they didn’t believe in that, and that at one point he reached 17 stone in weight.
Featuring on William Hill’s Up Front with Simon Jordan, a podcast hosted by the former Crystal Palace owner who speaks to sports stars and celebrities and challenges their opinions whilst scrutinising their careers, the former England goalkeeper discussed his time at Liverpool and his mental and physical struggles: “I thought that I needed to change because I wasn’t in the first team, so I approached the club doctor and asked if he knew a sports psychologist.
"He said that Liverpool didn’t believe in that, but I’ll have a look for you. So, this doctor got someone to come over and we sat in my kitchen for two hours – and I wasn’t one for inviting people into my house for private space and all that – so then when I went into work the next day, I went to the doctor and said that he was amazing. He said that he wasn’t a sports psychologist, I don’t know what he did, but that two-hour conversation made things change."
"The reason these people were having a go at me was that I wasn’t being the professional I could have been, so when they were calling me ‘Calamity James’, saying I was addicted to Xbox, and that I couldn’t catch a cold, it was a case of ‘I know I can’, but why am I not doing that?"
I wasn’t addicted to the PlayStation
In light of rumours during his career that he was addicted to gaming, James touched on one instance in which the press picked up on it and how the story affected him and his career.
"I sat in the car and I said to a reporter that I played the PlayStation for maybe three or four hours a day,” said James. “The Newcastle game occurred where it was 4-3 and I did an interview with a reporter who I thought was my friend. We were sat in the car outside the training ground and my friend Colin Jackson, the hurdler, talked about how his coach wouldn’t let him play on the PlayStation on a competition day because it takes away the nervous energy."
"This reporter was writing for one of the broadsheets which were being printed at 11pm on Friday and I went home and told my then-wife, and she said to phone him up and get it taken out because she knew that wouldn’t go down well in the media. I made the phone call and he said that it was too late and the story had gone to print. Then it was picked up by the ‘red tops’ so that by Saturday when I woke up for the Nottingham Forrest game, I saw stories saying, ‘David James is addicted to the PlayStation’. I wasn’t addicted, I just talked about it, and then all these things culminated in bad performances and I couldn’t understand what was going on."
I reached 17-stone, and I was fat
In addition to his mental struggles at Liverpool, James also discussed his physical issues and the lack of a fitness regime causing him to become overweight.
"I reached 17-stone, we didn’t have a fitness regime, and I was fat,” said James. “The frustration was that I wasn’t playing to a level I felt I should be playing at. I’m not going to say that I should have been the best goalkeeper in the world, but I can’t think of anything that another goalkeeper has done that I couldn’t do."
"I was then out of the team for eight months in my second season – I was actually sent off at the end of the first season against Norwich, so I missed the first game of the next season and never made it back into the side under Graeme Souness."
Watch the full episode here: https://youtu.be/fJn92Mumncc