Wigan Athletic ace lifts lid on spell in rehab

Jack Whatmough has opened up for the first time about his spell in a recovery clinic after developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and gambling.

By Paul Kendrick
Monday, 20th June 2022, 5:20 pm
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 5:20 pm

The 25-year-old is currently riding the crest of a wave, having been an ever-present in Wigan Athletic's League One title-winning campaign.

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His performances saw him named in both the EFL and PFA teams of the year, as well as being voted Latics' player of the year.

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Jack Whatmough

It's a far cry from the injury hell he experienced at the beginning of his career at Portsmouth, which saw him cut down by THREE serious knee problems as well as a broken shin.

Having been restricted to fewer than 100 appearances in the space of seven years, Whatmough slipped into a dark place.

By his own admission, he 'turned to alcohol and gambling', which was getting out of hand before he sought professional help.

And having come through the other side, Whatmough is hoping his story will help other players potentially in the same position to seek similar help.

“I think that’s one thing that doesn’t get spoken about enough within football," he acknowledged.

“It’s tough enough when you’re playing and things might not be going perfectly on the pitch, but to be injured and have to go through that feeling of not being able to help the team, it can become mentally tough and that’s something I did find.

“My girlfriend at the time, who I’ve just recently married, was incredible when I had to go through that.

"We rearranged the house so that I could avoid having to go up and down the stairs for two months and she helped me shower and everything.

“In those first couple of months, you really are just stuck in a room all day, every day, which can be really difficult.

"You look for a buzz that isn’t football and I turned to alcohol and gambling, which obviously wasn’t the best thing.”

Whatmough admits his daily intake of alcohol was up to eight cans of lager a day, while his gambling soon escalated from the occasional flutter into visits to casinos.

That was before he made the career-saving step of checking into the Sporting Chance Clinic - and started to turn his life, and career, around.

“Like a lot of blokes, I was a bit too proud to ask for that help at first, but as soon as I spoke about how I was feeling, it was a weight off my shoulders," he said.

“I went to Sporting Chance and spoke to a guy called Barry for a few weeks – the level of support you can receive as a footballer is incredible.

"It was really good to sit down and speak to someone who didn’t know me, so it was a different voice and a different opinion, rather than my family or the club. That really worked well for me.

“Portsmouth were incredible as well. Kenny Jackett was the manager at the time and I spoke to him on the phone for 10 or 15 minutes – he was very supportive.

"Clubs don’t look down on you when you’re struggling - they try to help.

“Speaking out is definitely a lot healthier than bottling things up. It was stupid what I was trying to do, but that’s way behind me now and I’m really enjoying my life again.”

Whatmough became the first signing of the Phoenix 2021 Limited era when he elected to leave the south coast for a new challenge in the north west.

And things couldn't have gone any better over the last 12 months, with the player also getting married to put the icing on a fairytale year.

“This summer has probably been the busiest I’ve ever had!" he added in the latest edition of the EFL magazine.

“First of all, to be able to celebrate with the fans after becoming champions was amazing – it was nice to see smiles on the faces of everyone.

“Shortly after the season had ended, I went to Vegas, then I had my stag do and I also flew out to Spain for my mate’s wedding.

"I came back to get married myself and then flew out for my honeymoon, so it’s been a busy one!

“I’ve got two young kids and they’re my switch off away from football, so I’m spending a lot of time with them as well, while trying to fit in some training around that."