Tony Adams inspired to do Strictly after suffering mental breakdown

Strictly Come Dancing releases trailer for new series

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The 55-year-old former Arsenal player spoke openly to explaining that he wishes to bring some awareness to “mental health and addiction” to the BBC show, after having his own battles. The footballing legend has decided this is the right time to commit to the show after turning down the offer back in 2016 when he still wanted to work as a football coach.

Speaking to after having done his first rehearsals ahead of the first Strictly live show on Saturday, September 24, Tony explained that celebrating being 26 years sober was the motivation he needed to take to the ballroom.

He said: “I’m 26 years free of doing drugs or drink and want to bring some mental health and addiction awareness around life.

“What I do today, I run a business, I run a couple of charities and dance is all part of the process.

“We use dance therapy for athletes and during rehab. And it’s good for the mind.”

The former club captain has become, over the years, one of the most high-profile champions of mental health, following his own recovery from alcoholism.

But what some may not realise is the star also suffered from a mental breakdown when he turned 49.

Explaining more about this difficult time in his life, Tony shared: “I thought you gotta go for it. I had a mental breakdown when I was 49.

“My new addiction was working too hard and this led to stress and a heart condition.

“And I went ‘Well that’s it I am going to to take things a bit easier’.

“You can do anything when you’re free of drugs or drinking. You can do anything. There you go. That’s my message.”

With a heartfelt and serious motivation behind him, Tony has also kept in mind the nature of the programme and the difficulty that comes with the art of professional ballroom and latin dancing.

He finished by joking: “And make myself look an absolute idiot!”

The star’s struggles came when he was just 17. Describing that he got “pi**** every day” in order to suppress his feeling during a spell on the sidelines, Tony’s reliance on alcohol stayed with him well into his football career.

His success on the pitch, winning two First Division titles, one FA Cup and League Cups between 1986 and 1993, was marred by his problems with alcohol, which led to several incidents at nightclubs and also a four-month stint behind bars for drink-driving in 1990.

Having faced severe problems with his mental health and physical health due to the amount of alcohol and drugs he was consuming, Tony fought to get sober. In 1996 he remarked that he had “got his career back”.

Back in 2020 during an interview with talkSPORT Breakfast Tony shared: “It’s not part of my being today, it’s not a thing. It’s been removed from me.

“I still check in and go to regular AA meetings and keep it fresh, because we are human beings and we can forget. We’ve got ‘romantic recall’ they call it, when we think of only the good times.

“There were plenty of those, me and Razor had some cracking times…

“But I don’t need it today, I get the high out of life to be honest with you. I’m clear of mind, got my dignity back, I’ve got a loving heart and I’m all right.”

Having got himself back on track, and now taking part in Strictly Come Dancing, Tony finished by saying that he was close to still being addicted to alcohol today, calling it an “unbelievable drug”.

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