June 10, 2021 5.19 pm This story is over 13 months old

Maverick footballer trying to reignite love for the game at Spalding United

His talent is undeniable, but personal demons have held him back

Notoriously outspoken footballer Marcus Maddison has opened up on his shock move to non-league Spalding United, after several years in the professional game destroyed his mental health.

In an interview with SPORTbible, Marcus Maddison said he was in a very dark place during his time as a professional footballer, and the 27-year-old is hoping to fall back in love with the game now that he’s gone part-time.

The Durham-born attacking midfielder was tipped for big things during his six-year spell at Peterborough United, but he admits that his love for football was slowly fading throughout.

His career seemed to be all but over after a number of unsuccessful stints in the football league, but last month Marcus dropped four divisions to join part-timers Spalding United in the Northern Premier League South/East Division.

He said: “In Peterborough I became a villain for no reason. My car got keyed on my drive, I’ve been punched on nights out – all because of the way I play football.

“People can’t differentiate between the man that’s a footballer and the man who is a normal person.”

Marcus is exactly that, a normal guy. The night before each match at Peterborough, he would eat a chicken tikka masala, and on the day of the game he’d buy a £3 Tesco meal deal.

He references one particular incident where he planned to crash his car in an attempt to get out of training. “I just didn’t want to be there”, he said.

After leaving Peterborough he had disappointing spells at Hull City, Charlon Athletic and Bolton Wanderers, which all factored into the downward spiral of Maddison’s mental wellbeing.

His move to Bolton was cut short after just ten appearances, and Marcus says it left him questioning what direction his career and life were going in.

He added: “I’ve tried to fit in and be happy but if I can’t be happy in a winning team fighting for promotion it’s clearly something deeper.

“Football has a very specific kind of banter. And if you don’t fit into that category, and you don’t enjoy that sort of banter, you’re not going to have many friends.”

Off the pitch he has developed a negative reputation among football supporters, and spates of online abuse have really affected Marcus to the point where he’s at a crossroads.

He revealed that he gets abusive messages on a daily basis on social media, something which has contributed to his loss of love for football.

Maddison surprised everyone in the English footballing world when he dropped down to the eighth tier to join part-time Lincolnshire side Spalding United in May, aiming to first and foremost remember why he plays the game of football.

He joined the club off the back of his relationship with former Peterborough United teammate and current manager of Spalding United, Gabriel Zakuani.

Marcus said: “Gaby is a huge thing for me. He reached out to me first. It was literally that. It was like a first-come, first-served kind of thing. I know him well. He’ll let me play how I kind of want to play. He’ll give me free rein.”