As a young footballer, Clare Shine appeared to have it all. She won her first international call-up at age 13, but the pressure of being a star striker weighed heavily on her young shoulders.

By the age of 20, Clare had played in a FIFA WU17 World Cup, scored in a UEFA WU19 European Championship, won a first senior international cap and become a professional footballer. She was a rising star.

By age 23, Clare had become addicted to alcohol, experimented with drugs, suffered panic attacks and tried to take her own life. She was in the dark.

In a new book written with Gareth Maher and published this week, she tells the story of being trapped as a young girl under the weight of expectation while fighting personal demons. As she becomes a young woman, she embarks on a journey to find her true identity and achieve new goals as she completes a remarkable recovery.

It covers how the death of a childhood friend triggered mental-health problems and the impact of trying to make her way in a sporting world that always looks so wonderful from the outside at a glance but brings with it enormous pressures.

It reveals how she suffered a panic attack at her first senior international camp and then had to wait five years to make her debut, her injuries and comebacks as well as the alcohol that she turned to in the darkest of days.

It is a story still being written. During the first period of lockdown, only months after revealing her struggles and seeming to have put them behind here with a call up to Vera Pauw’s squad, she went missing from a party in Scotland and ended up in a psychiatric hospital after a second suicide attempt.

That she is still with us and still playing football is the biggest win of her career.

Her story looks like one that will resonate across all sports and all ages.

Scoring Goals in the Dark by Clare Shine is published this week by Pitch Publishing and available from all good bookstores as well as on kindle.



Sport for Business Partners