A FOOTBALLER was plagued with depression and embarrassment after rumours about his fiancée’s alleged affair with his team-mate hit the national headlines, an inquest heard.
Horden-born Rushden and Diamonds goalkeeper Dale Roberts was also nervous about returning to the pitch after months of feeling lethargic as he was recovering from a leg injury and consigned to the bench.
Manchester City star Adam Johnson, who played youth football with Dale as they grew up in Easington, gave evidence at the inquest into the 24-year-old’s death at Northampton Coroner’s Court yesterday.
Dale, who started as a trainee with Sunderland before moving to Nottingham Forest and then Rushden and Diamonds, was found hanged at his home in Rushden, Northamptonshire, on December 14 last year.
The England star, who was one of Dale’s closest friends, said the goalkeeper was upset following unsubstantiated rumours about his fiancée, Lindsey Cowan, sleeping with Paul Terry, the elder brother of England captain John Terry.
The inquest heard that Dale had introduced his fiancée to Paul Terry and he would occasionally sleep over on the couch at the flat they shared.
They had been good friends before rumours about the infidelity emerged in the press and Terry was subsequently transferred from Rushden to Darlington, the inquest was told.
The former Middlesbrough winger said: “I’m not sure he could deal with the embarrassment the story caused him.
“There’s no way Dale would have gone to the press, no matter how upset he was.”
Isabelle Roberts, Dale’s mother, said her son told her he was worried about the reaction from the public.
“I believe this was because he was worried what people thought about him and what was said in the press,” she said.
The inquest heard that Roberts was found dead on the day he was due to return to goalkeeping duties after suffering an injury while playing for the England C team in September last year.
He had been prescribed anti-depressants after feeling down and missing training sessions.
On the night before his death, Dale received a text message from manager Justin Edinburgh telling him he would be playing the next day, which caused him some anxiety.
“He said he was nervous and just wanted to be on the bench,” Miss Cowan said.
She and Roberts went through their normal routine the next day and she left for work at around 7.45am. It was the last time she saw him alive.
During the day she received a text message from him that said: “I’m so scared about playing tonight.”
Returning a verdict of suicide, Coroner Anne Pember said: “From the evidence I’ve heard and the mode of his death, I believe that, at a time when he was feeling low and depressed, he no longer wished to live.
“I return a verdict that he killed himself.”
Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Roberts stood with her arm around Miss Cowan and her husband George beside her as a statement was read on their behalf.
The statement said: “We wish to thank everyone for their help, support and kindness over the past year.
“It’s been a difficult time for everyone concerned but the love and support we’ve been shown has helped us during this difficult time.”