The life of a footballer is often characterized as glamorous, exhilarating, and prosperous. When speaking about superstars like Ronaldo and Messi, such a characterization is largely correct. Most people are aware of the immense sacrifices they made to reach the top, but they undoubtedly live privileged lives. However, for players that didn’t make it, or for those who fell just short of glory, the reality is much more complicated.
Royston Drenthe, a former Real Madrid player, is one of those footballers. In a candid interview with MARCA, Drenthe completely opens up about his internal demons and personal struggles. From the beginning, it’s clear that his life was difficult and was an uphill battle.
Did you know that my dad was killed when I was three? They murdered him in the street. My mum hid it from me for quite a while to protect me. She told me it was an accident, but the reality was something else. - Drenthe
It seems that football was the same for him as well, as he retired under tough mental conditions.
I was tired, depressed, hopeless... It didn't make me happy playing professional football, I didn't like that world. Bad things happened to me and I was playing in the Emirates, one day I just said that's enough, I quit. - Drenthe
He noted having problems with agents who manipulated him and having an extremely tough time with Mourinho, who apparently mistreated Drenthe and locked him out of the team.
I started by playing. With [Bernd] Schuster I had a good relationship. The problems began with [Jose] Mourinho, he made me leave Real Madrid. I had some serious words with him because I wasn't happy with what he did to me. - Drenthe
It’s sobering to hear Drenthe’s words and it’s a solemn reminder of the difficulties that many footballers go through in the effort reach the top. But despite the way his career ended with Los Blancos, Royston is clear that he is a Madridista through and through.
Real Madrid are the best club in history and I played for them. No one can get rid of that. There are superstars that have dreamed of playing there who never achieved it. I did and I enjoyed it a lot because I was living the dream there. I will always carry Madrid in my heart. I am a Madrid fan.
But perhaps that’s no surprise, given his philosophy on life:
MARCA: Do you have many regrets?
Drenthe: What do regrets help with now... You can't do anything now.
Read Royston Drenthe’s full interview with MARCA here.