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23rd Nov 2023

Former Premier League player fights back tears as he reveals autism diagnosis

Callum Boyle

Premier League autism

‘I found it very, very hard. It was hard to interact with people’

Former Premier League man Greg Halford fought back the tears as he revealed that he was diagnosed with autism for the first time.

Halford made more than 500 appearances during his time as a professional footballer, playing for the likes of Nottingham Forest, Reading and Portsmouth.

Until now, Halford had hid that he was on the autism spectrum following a recent diagnosis shortly after his son, who was “exactly the same” as him at the same age, was discovered to have the condition.

Speaking about his diagnosis on the Under the Cosh podcast when talking about his 2007 move to Sunderland.

At the time, Halford had made a £3m move from Reading, just six months after joining the Royals, which proved to be difficult for him to adapt to.

“I haven’t told anyone this in the football world or anything but I’m on the spectrum of autism,” he revealed.

“So, change, and not knowing at that time, fitting into a new group of people and changing, the way I live, where I live, being away from my family, my girlfriend at the time. I found it very, very hard.

“It was hard to interact with people. After training, I never wanted to go into the cafeteria because I didn’t want to be around. I felt awkward. It was just a weird sensation so I would just go home.”

Visibly emotional, Halford explained how he often found it hard to socialise away from training.

He continued: “Being on the pitch is completely different, that’s my area, I can control myself there.

“But when it’s small intimate groups, I found it very difficult at that sort of time.”

Now playing football with non-league side Hashtag United, Halford admitted that he still would not have told anyone had he been diagnosed earlier in the peak of his playing career.

“If I’d known that diagnosis at that time still wouldn’t have told anyone because I wanted to learn for myself.

“I wanted to grow as a person and make the mistakes that I needed to make in order to be better in the future.”

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