CHRIS Kirkland has praised the support given to him by Bury and former manager David Flitcroft during his short stint at the club.

The former Liverpool and Coventry goalkeeper revealed in an interview with the BBC how problems with depression led him to quit the Shakers without ever playing a game for them.

His arrival in the summer of 2016 was trumpeted as a major coup for the club after sealing promotion to League One.

But behind the scenes, the dad of one's life was unravelling as he struggled to come to terms with anxiety issues.

And the matter came to a head during a pre-season training camp in Portugal.

"I just had to get home," the 36-year-old told the BBC.

"My wife (Leeona) had a hospital appointment. It was nothing serious, I didn't need to be there, but we used it as an excuse to get me home.

"I just rang one night crying my eyes out on the bed where we were staying saying 'I need to get home'.

"The manager Dave Flitcroft and Bury were brilliant. The club were fantastic. They gave me a couple of weeks. I wanted to give it a go so I went back. "After the third day, we were in a little five-a-side and I just wasn't there. I wasn't bothered.

"I didn't even try, I was that low. I went in and said I need a break, I need to get away. I need help."

Kirkland sought help from the Players' Football Association and told the BBC things are starting to improve.

"Now things are good. It is still an ongoing process but I can see light now," said the goalkeeper, who has called on other players struggling with mental problems not to suffer in silence.

"You have got to speak, you have got to talk. Whether it is to the PFA or someone at your club.

"It's ok to talk, don't be ashamed, don't be embarrassed. You'll always get some people who mock you but those people are cowards and should be ashamed of themselves.

"Make sure you talk. Once I started talking things seemed a lot clearer and there are people there who will help you.

"I think football realised they have a massive problem on their hands. Enough wasn't being done before, no.

"The PFA have admitted that. But now they are putting measures in place to make sure the help is there for players.

"They know they have a big, big problem in the game and they're doing their best now to sort it out."