Former Carlisle United star Matt Jansen has revealed how a near-fatal road crash left him suicidal. In his autobiography, which is published today, Jansen lifts the lid on the moped accident in Rome which put him in a coma, and his spiral into despair as he struggled to recapture the form which had seen him on the verge of playing for England.

Jansen, 41, grew up in Wetheral. His book was written with the News & Star’s Carlisle United reporter Jon Colman. It covers his journey from Brunton Park to playing in the Premier League with Crystal Palace and Blackburn Rovers. He was on the brink of being selected for England’s 2002 World Cup squad, going on that fateful holiday to Rome after manager Sven-Göran Eriksson made a last-minute decision not to include him.

Jansen told the News & Star: “I feel the book is not your stereotypical footballer’s autobiography. I think people who aren’t interested in the game will be able to relate to it. It’s more about the psychology of sport, and the psychology of life. The kind of struggles that anybody might deal with in any walk of life.

“I was struggling to get back to the heights I’d reached before the accident. In those days mental illness, depression and seeing a psychologist were seen as a weakness. Attitudes now are much more supportive. If the accident had happened in 2019 I would have felt less ashamed to say ‘I’m struggling.’”

Asked whether he feels he achieved his potential, Jansen said: “I went from Carlisle to the Premier League, a whole host of clubs wanting me, winning the League Cup, being called up for the England side. Then the accident at 24, unfortunately just when I was blossoming.

“I’ve had horrible dark times. But I’ve now come out of those. I’ve got three wonderful kids and a wonderful wife. It’s been good to tell the truth about what I went through. If it helps anybody else in future, it’s done its job.”

Jon Colman said: “Matt was prepared to cover some very painful ground to ensure that his story was told appropriately. It is also a measure of Matt that several high-profile football figures, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Graeme Souness, Sam Allardyce and Sven-Göran Eriksson were happy to contribute to the book.

“It’s a tragedy that the accident deprived him of the many England caps he was destined to achieve. His recovery taught him some hard but valuable lessons not just about football but mental health. His story deserves to be told and it is a privilege to have had the opportunity to help him tell it.”

* Matt Jansen, The Autobiography: What Was, What Is and What Might Have Been is published by Polaris.