FORMER Chelsea keeper Lenny Pidgeley now works as a landscape gardener, five years after hanging up his boots.

The shot-stopper, 39, joined the Blues as a teenager and began being selected in Jose Mourinho's squads during the 2004/05 season.

He was on the bench for their 2005 League Cup triumph, before he made his Premier League debut towards the end of the campaign in a 1-0 win over Charlton – the same day they lifted the Premier League trophy.

And Chelsea skipper John Terry even went out of his way to ensure he received a winner's medal.

Pidgeley left Stamford Bridge in 2006 after two appearances and went on to play for clubs such as Exeter City and Newport County.

He then ended up in non-league, before joining his final side Farnborough in 2018.


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But just three months after penning a deal, the club announced he had retired due to mental health problems.

Pidgeley, who is open about his struggles with depression, has now spoken to FourFourTwo about the time he had been unable to play in an FA Cup tie due to his mental state.

And the response from Farnborough was something he will never forget.

He said: "The manager had made me feel so small and suggested it was all my fault if they lost, because I couldn’t play.

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"It wasn’t for him to announce my retirement like that – he completely stole my moment, something that every professional has a right to tell the world when they want to. 

"That could have tipped somebody else over the edge, but luckily for me I had the coping mechanisms in place to put it to one side.

"The manager received a big backlash after that statement – which the club eventually deleted – and I received lots of support online, but once again, it illustrated how some people view mental health and depression."

Five years on from his days at Farnborough, Pidgeley is now in a much better head space.

He said: "I’m in control now. I’m very proud of my career.

"It’s tempting to wonder how different it could have panned out if I wasn’t one of the thousands who suffer from depression, but I am where I am and I’m finding peace.

"After all, not many football fans grow up to lift the Premier League title for their boyhood club 10 minutes after making their debut."

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