Ben Cousins has made a brutally honest new revelation about his battle with substance abuse and fall from grace after being one of the finest AFL players of his generation.
The former premiership winner has battled a well-documented drug addiction and spent numerous stints behind bars, following a tumultuous end to his glittering AFL career.
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Cousins was once one of the AFL's top midfielders and played a crucial role in the West Coast Eagles' 2006 premiership victory, before off-field troubles cost him the captaincy in early 2006 and he was sacked by the club after the 2007 season.
Cousins played 238 games for West Coast and returned to the AFL in 2009 to play 32 games for Richmond before he retired at the end of 2010.
The 44-year-old has admitted to battling drug addiction in the past and has had numerous run-ins with the law, including a 12-month stint in jail in 2017 for stalking ex-partner, Maylea Tinecheff, who is the mother of his children.
However, Cousins has worked hard at turning his life around and revealed in Bunbury over the weekend - where he spoke alongside 2018 West Coast premiership player Dom Sheed - that he was "kidding himself" into thinking he was OK during some of the darkest moments of his spiral.
“It just gets back to being happy and for a long time, I hadn’t been and I had those fleeting moments where I thought I was kidding myself just to try and get by,” he said.
“It’s been a big struggle but today I sit here and it’s not in any way about the things I’ve given up or had to give up or sacrifice, it’s all about things I can give back.”
So good to see Ben Cousins at the Brownlow 🙏 pic.twitter.com/1tEy4FKBAo
— 7AFL (@7AFL) September 20, 2021
Cousins says he saw himself as a one-club player with West Coast and regrets that his off-field behaviour ultimately led to the unceremonious exit from his boyhood club.
However, the 44-year-old insists that everything happens for a reason and that he is "forever grateful" towards Richmond for deciding to sign him at a challenging time in his career.
“I played the majority of my football at West Coast and never once did I entertain the idea of leaving West Coast or did I ever see my future being anything other than a one-team player but obviously what happened, happened,” he said.
“One of the great things about that whole situation was the opportunity that I got to play for Richmond who were sort of brave enough to take it on and pick me up.
“I was desperate to play, I was no guarantee to get picked up and there was a circus that sort of followed me for 12 or 18 months.
“As much as I would have loved for it to be just a football decision, it really wasn’t, I’m forever grateful. (Richmond) were a fantastic club to play for.
“I had two pretty tough years on field but it’s been amazing to be at that footy club at that time with a handful of that core group that was able to go on and build something from those days and win those three grand finals and have that dynasty.”
Ben Cousins turns life around after downward spiral
Following several years of finding himself in the headlines for the wrong reasons, Cousins' return to public life has included impressive work as a pundit on 7News Perth, where he provides expert analysis and previews upcoming AFL games.
Last year he made his return to the footy field for Queens Park in the Perth Metro Football League, before captaining his side in a Footy for Life charity match in January to help raise awareness for mental health.
It was the first time Cousins captained a footy side since the 2005 AFL grand final with West Coast.
He also attended the Brownlow Medal ceremony for the first time in 11 years at the end of the 2021 season, looking happy and healthy alongside friend, Kellye Fergus.
When asked at the ceremony in September if he was back on the right path, Cousins replied: "Yeah absolutely."
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