Europe news

Ex-Inter youngster lifts lid on club

October 6, 2012
By ESPN staff

A former Inter Milan academy player has revealed how his time at the club was like "being in a prison", leading him to slit his wrists due to depression.

San Siro
GettyImagesMartin Bengtsson did not have the time at the San Siro that he would have hoped for

Martin Bengtsson joined Inter at the age of 17 in 2004, following trials with Chelsea and Ajax, but his experiences with the Nerazzurri led to him attempting to take his own life.

And ahead of Sunday's Milan derby, the former Sweden Under-19 international has spoken out to warn young players about the reality of life at the top.

"I needed to escape and the razors became my way out. I cut as hard as I could, I needed to get out," he told the BBC's World Football programme. "I was really sick, I heard voices and I started to lose the feeling of whether it was night or day. What I remember is that I was walking around in a big cloud and I couldn't handle it anymore."

Bengtsson also recalled one occasion when some of his academy team team-mates were caught smoking marijuana and as a result everyone was punished for it.

"They had a problem at the training camp and we got punished because (some players) had smoked marijuana on a balcony and we got a punishment, all the players, even those who hadn't had anything to do with it," he said.

"For a couple months we almost lost our freedom to go out of our house in Milan and to buy groceries. I got very depressed by the feeling of being in a prison and being locked in."

Bengtsson turned to music in a bid to escape his depression, writing songs on his guitar. However, he also had this this privilege taken away from him - something that was too much for the player to take and led to a sucide attempt.

"One day after I came back from a match with the Swedish national team in Finland, the cleaning lady had thrown all my papers away, all my lyrics and everything," he said. "For me, that was a very big thing because that was my soul on the floor there."

Bengtsson's experiences led him to quit the game and he eventually formed an industrial punk rock group called Waldemaar, while he is now also working on a novel.

But he has a message for young players with dreams of making it as a professional.

"There's something very, very wrong with the way of treating players and the mentality of how we see if you're strong enough," he said.

"You become a stone in many ways and it's hard for you to then go out in the real world and start a new life because you have so much anger within you."

Inter Milan refused to comment on the conditions inside their youth academy.