By Chris Wright
In an astonishingly frank and stark interview with The Blizzard quarterly football magazine (an extract of which appears in today’s Guardian), former Southampton captain Claus Lundekvam has opened up about the various struggles he’s lived through since his retirement from football in 2008, admitting that an all-encompassing addiction to alcohol and cocaine almost killed him.
Speaking to Lars Sivertsen, Lundekvam documents his dark days, during which he alienated his friends and family while his life plummeted out of control.
“I would drink two litres of hard liquor and do between five and ten grams of cocaine every day,” Lundekvam recalls. “At that point I’d given up. I accepted that as a human being I was finished.”
After retiring due to an insurmountable ankle injury at the age of 35, Lundekvam desperately sought something to replace the adrenaline rush, the “feeling of really being alive”, that playing football in front of thousands of people every week used to provide him with and this led his to try cocaine while on holiday in Marbella.
He then spent the next six months slowly sinking into a habit while trying to keep it from his family by taking sleeping pills to “get right again” in the mornings.
Obviously twigging that something was wrong, his wife then returned to Norway with the kids and it was at this point that things went completely and totally south for Lundekvam.
“I just sat at home, because I had contacts and I had the finances to get whatever I wanted, I just had everything delivered to me,” he says, before admitting that while constantly high and/or drunk, he took to roaming around his garden with a huge knife, hunting for paparazzi in the undergrowth.
“With the combination of alcohol and cocaine, you get an angst and a paranoia that’s like nothing else and you think the whole world is watching you. So I unscrewed all the light bulbs in my house and I climbed the trees in the garden and crawled around out there.”
According to Sivertsen, Lundekvam unscrewed all his blubs as he believed them to be hidden cameras and that one night “he spent several hours hiding in a cupboard” in a bid to avoid them.
Lundekvam adds: “I threatened everyone who came near me, the police, the ambulance people, I threatened them with a huge kitchen knife.”
He was then hospitalised and arrested several times before buying a one-way ticket to Rio de Janeiro with intention of snorting and shagging his way to an early grave. Thankfully, he passed out and missed the flight – though he still keeps the ticket to this day as a ominous reminder of his lowest ebb.
The full interview is available here and we heartily suggest you give it a whirl. It’s harrowing stuff, especially considering that Lundekvam (who is now in recovery and living at home by the sea in Norway with his wife and children while working as a football pundit for Norwegian broadcasters TV2) seemed like such a down-the-line kind of player at the time.
Goes to show you never can tell.