Ex-Liverpool star Steve Nicol opens up about how the Hillsborough tragedy impacted on him

"I got in the car, crying my eyes out"

Steve Nicol

Coach Steve Nicol, from Scotland, talks to the media following the MLS All-Star soccer practice at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. Colo., Wednesday, July 18, 2007. The MLS All-Stars take on Scotland's Celtics FC Thursday night. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

During his 13-year spell at Liverpool in the 1980s and early '90s, the medals rolled in for Steve Nicol.

The former Scotland full-back won five league titles, three FA Cups and the 1984 European Cup.

It was a different era to the football of today and is told in his new autobiography 5 League Titles and a Packet of Crisps

And he joined Off The Ball to chat about a career that has seen him manage in the USA and share a few tales and insights.

Nicol was at Liverpool when the Hillsborough tragedy took place and he spoke about the effect that had on him as a player and person.

In the book he writes: "I should have left Liverpool Football Club long before I did. That sounds like a terrible thing to say, but it’s true. I loved the club - still do, always will - but I simply could not rid my mind of Hillsborough. Consciously and subconsciously, it was eating away at me. Eventually, I just couldn’t take it any more. God alone knows how the survivors and families have coped."

Steve Nicol at Liverpool in 1983. Picture by: Peter Robinson / EMPICS Sport

Discussing that, he told Joe Molloy: "After Hillsborough, that focus that I personally had went and I started doing things that I just wouldn't normally have done. I started going out and drinking when I shouldn't have and at times I wouldn't have done before.

"And I couldn't stop myself. It's not like I didn't know I was doing it. I knew I was doing it because I could feel it in training. All of a sudden, you're a yard away from where you were. You don't feel good and your mind starts going [and] from just turning up and playing and having a great time, everything became hard. You start thinking about everything as opposed to before." 

Finding a way of coming to terms with the tragedy and the sadness that followed proved difficult.

"Bruce and I after one day decided to go to our local. We got there and ordered a pint and the barmaid said 'by the way, nothing to do with Hillsborough but [someone] had died' and we just looked at each other, put our pints down and walked outside. I got in the car, crying my eyes out. I got home and my wife was asking 'what's up with you?' and I said 'I've no idea'. I'm just crying my eyes out. I guess that should have been a sign that you should go and ask for help but again, as I said, back then it wasn't what you did."

Nicol also discussed his early years at Liverpool as well as how the club changed when Graeme Souness became manager.