Adams says Sporting Chance, the 20-year-old charity he set up for those in sport with addiction and mental health issues, eclipses all he achieved in his illustrious playing career

“Captaining your country, going out at Wembley, captaining Arsenal to 10 trophies, playing your first game – they’re all amazing things. But, phew, saving people’s lives takes it out of all context.” It took Tony Adams a long time to really recognise what he has achieved with the Sporting Chance Clinic, the charity he established to provide support for sports professionals with mental health and addiction issues.

“Sometimes I have put myself on the cross in sobriety, definitely the early years. I didn’t feel the effect of the charity for a long time. I feel amazing now that I started this. I am going to cry if I am not careful.” Adams’s voice cracks before he continues: “I will cry later. Before, it was just another thing I did like winning the FA Cup. Done that, what’s next? Get on with it.

Related: ‘I have an illness. I’ve accepted that’: Paul Merson opens up on his depression

I got people to look at the landscape for addiction. No one was helping. Nobody wanted to take responsibility

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