WHEN Kris Boyd retires from playing – and there appears no prospect of that happening any time soon given that he has scored 12 goals for Kilmarnock this season in total and netted six times last month alone – he will be able to look back on his career with justifiable pride.

The 35-year-old won every major honour in the Scottish game with his boyhood heroes Rangers, played and scored for his national team, plied his trade in England, Turkey and the United States and is the record scorer in the Premiership.

Few players of his generation from this country have achieved as much the striker from Tarbolton in Ayrshire.

Yet, everything that Boyd has done in football since making his debut as a professional at Rugby Park aged 18 back in 2001 is insignificant to him in comparison with making a success of the charity which he launched yesterday. Saving lives is far more important to him than scoring goals.

He has set up the Kris Boyd Charity in response to the tragic death of his younger brother Scott from suicide in September of 2016. His aim is to raise the profile of mental health issues as well as provide practical help to anyone experiencing anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. He will approach the admirable and ambitious project with the same determination that he goes into any game with.

“This is something I want to tackle,” said Boyd. “I want to put all my effort into it. I’ve never been one to shy away from any scenario or bury my head in the sand. I’ll always be at the forefront of anything I do. This will involve a lot of hard work. But I firmly believe the charity will be a success. Hopefully we’re sitting here in a couple of years’ time with success stories.

“If that is the case then I would sit and take more pride from that than anything I achieved in football because it is someone’s life. Yes, football has given me a good life, but when you get right down to it life is more important than anything.

“I’m fully equipped in terms of coaching going forward, I’m equipped in terms of media work, but this is something I want to get my teeth into and help a lot of people.”

Boyd conceded it would not be easy for him to face up to the death of his brother on a daily basis by fronting the charity, but it is something he is prepared to do.

“The most important thing for me is if I can help one person and stop their family going through what mine has gone through, especially my mum and dad,” he said.

“I feel if I go and tackle it I can help a lot of people. I can raise awareness. There are loads of different charities, foundations, different companies, individual people, out there doing a fantastic job right now. But they also need help in raising awareness.

“We need to do everything we possibly can. As men, there is always a period where you feel down, but you are the big strong guy and you don’t want to admit it. You just carry on through it. It is about breaking that barrier down and saying it is alright to speak, it is alright to open up.

“Yes, I will be at the forefront, but it is something I don’t mind being at the forefront of because if it helps the charity to go out there and have one success in the near future and it stops somebody’s else’s family going through what I have then it will have been worth it.”

The charity will attempt to help anyone experiencing mental health issues whether they are involved in football or not, but Boyd believes it is important for the game to tackle what he believes is a widespread problem.

“There’s a lot of people in football who are scared to open up,” he said. “For whatever reason, and that’s why there’s still so many problems within the game. It’s not until they leave that they start looking back on things and ask themselves why they didn’t open up.

“People have issues with alcohol, drugs and gambling, but those are things which numb the pain and which we need to tackle beforehand. You have the mental aspect where you’re fighting to understand who you are as a person and we need to try and help people before any addiction takes a grip.”

Boyd added: “I’m fully aware what happens when you finish playing football I think that is a massive problem for a lot of footballers. They think the day is never going to come. You need to stimulate yourself and have something going forward. If you don’t have something else to stimulate you then that can be a problem.”

Boyd will be helped by Donald MacNaughton, the renowned Scottish performance coach, who will offer free consultations through the charity.

Kris Boyd was the speaking at the launch of his Charity to raise awareness and funds for Mental Health. The inaugural event is a Valentine’s Ball at Ayr Racecourse on 17th February. For more details go to www.thekrisboydcharity.co.uk

HeraldScotland | Sport

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