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Hunty's Column: The Paul Canoville Story (Part 2)

Yesterday our weekly columnist John Hunt recounted Paul Canoville's early life and time at Chelsea, so today continue the story with his spell at Reading and post-retirement problems...

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At the end of yesterday's part one, Canoville was on the verge of signing for Reading following regular racial abuse at Chelsea....

So Paul signs for Reading FC because they wanted him and he just wanted to play football, that's all that mattered. He was offered a sponsored car with his name on the side and he's like are you kidding me that's asking for trouble!

Playing alongside Stuart Beavon, who he rates as one of the best Reading players he played with, they showed manager Ian Branfoot that we can play football on the ground rather than lumping it up field. Then he gets injured, which if he hadn't Paul thinks we would have got promoted in 1987.

On racism at the club? Paul says it was a breath of fresh air at Reading FC and that there was never any issue on or off the pitch and he honestly wondered why Chelsea couldn't have been the same.

The best player he played with in his entire career was Pat Nevin - the classy winger at Chelsea. The best player he played against was Kenny Dalglish for.his ability to turn something out of nothing!

Mental Health Issues

Paul loved playing for us but when your knee swells up like a balloon after each game it's over. What do you do when your dream is coming to an end? You go to do normal jobs like a delivery driver but slowly things fall apart. When football has been your life, you live the same lifestyle. Late nights become later nights, severe depression kicks in and then you turn to drugs and you lose interest In your appearance and life.

Why didn't he ask for help? As with the issues at Chelsea, Paul's Caribbean upbringing meant you just got on with it you don't talk! The drugs would block out everything made him forget his worries about money. When you're down and depressed sometimes there's a guardian angel out there to look out for your and for Paul it was when he bumped into an ex apprentice Simon Chandler who looked up to him and helped him get to rehabilitation.

The first trip wasn't successful when you're being told what to do by a textbook counsellor who you can't relate to.
When his baby son died in his arms, this was the final straw and he went back to rehab. This time he found a counsellor who made him talk by pushing the right buttons so much he didn't want the first session to end! Afterwards he couldn't believe that he had allowed it to happen but he continued to talk and slowly turned his life around even having the courage to also beat cancer twice!

Today Paul can laugh about the dark times. He remembers after he took an overdose he actually thought with half an eye open he saw a white light that was heaven. It was only when he opened the other one that he realised the curtains were open and the light was shining in. He had survived only to be given a right talking to by his ex girlfriend.

One thing that struck a chord with me was Paul's ability to block out negativity and put on a smiley face even when your struggling. It is the 'I'm alright mate approach!'. It gets us all so far, but sometimes it would be nice to just to be able to talk.

He hopes clubs these days support youngsters and educate them about the perils of hangers on alcohol and drugs. Paul's advice? However difficult it is to admit you need help, don't be afraid to talk to someone. We are all human - don't delay, you will get the assistance you need to make sure that you are not alone!

Thank you Paul for inspiring me with the story of his journey to keep on fighting. I hope you continue to inspire others. I've only given a very brief insight into the story of Paul and the amazing work he does, but please check in on his website or follow him on Twitter: @Kingcanners.



To help the Paul Canoville foundation, just go to