JACK WHATMOUGH has revealed he turned to alcohol and gambling during his rehabilitation from the knee injury that kept him out of football for a year.
The 23-year-old returned to first-team duty this week in the Leasing.com Trophy quarter-final clash which ended a 12-month rehabilitation. He lasted the full 90 minutes of the win over Scunthorpe United and, most importantly, felt no ill effects following the game.
And following the game the Gosport-born centre back spoke of the struggles he has endured after suffering his third serious knee injury, and how his family and the Professional Footballers’ Association, PFA, were key to his recovery.
“There were a few times I dealt with situations wrong. There were things I probably shouldn’t have been doing,” said Whatmough. “I was drinking more and gambling, which is something you don’t want to be massively doing at any stage.
“But you go into a dark place and do things which are out of character. I didn’t deal with it the right way at first, but you get people around you and you come out of that place.
“Family have been key, they’re the ones who are always there. My partner has been brilliant from the start, while the staff at the club have been honest with me throughout.
“We’re very lucky to have the PFA with us. I had about five weeks of speaking with them, which was a massive help.
“You look at yourself and think what you’re doing is stupid, but you’re in a situation you don’t want to be in and it’s not nice. You look for moments like returning back on the pitch and winning a game and that gets you out of a dark hole.
“That was one of the main things to get me through it and I’m still fortunate enough to be under contract at this club and to be a professional footballer.”
Among the games he missed was the EFL Final at Wembley last March where Pompey beat Sunderland on penalties to lift the trophy in front of a full house. With their place in the semi-finals booked, along with League Two sides Exeter and Salford, and Leicester Under-21s, a return visit to Wembley is on the cards, something Whatmough would be delighted to be a part of.
He added: “Getting to Wembley would be massive, especially because I missed out last season. Hopefully we can do it again.”