A former England player has revealed how he was forced to sleep rough in Canterbury for six months after falling on hard times.
Roly Brookeman, who played for England in the 1970s and early 80s, slept in a tent in 2016 after several years of depression following a marriage break-up.
“It was a low point, I got lazy but I found out what it was to have nothing,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.
Brookeman said he pitched his tent outside a church in Canterbury where his children had been christened nearly 30 years previously.
“I was minor assaulted three times but I learnt the ways of force as I was a bit older. I think they thought I was invading their space but they were apologetic afterwards. It was an eye-opening time and I have moved on now.”
Brookeman was a pacy winger and inside right who could run 100 metres over 11 seconds, and played for Slough, Hounslow, Southgate and Canterbury. He also played in three World Cups.
“My world fell apart with divorce and depression but what kept me going was sport and hockey,” added Brookeman, whose marriage broke up in the early 2000s.
Brookeman’s daughter stepped in and gave him the number of Catching Lives, a charity which helps rough sleepers find accommodation. He now lives in Windsor.
“I went across the world and for that I am eternally grateful,” he added in the Telegraph interview.
“They said I was the fastest over five metres, had a great of change of pace and ball control. I’ll also take that and I pat myself on the back every so often.
“The game has changed so much. It’s difficult to say if I could have been a part of it. It involves so many different skills which is why I loved the game to begin with.
“They say it’s a toffs’ game but that’s far from the case.”