Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

'It’s something you never get over', Terry Yorath on the pain of losing his teenage son

As a sportsman he’s tasted triumph. But Terry Yorath’s personal life has been threaded with tragedy.

In a special ITV Wales documentary, the former player and Wales manager talks openly about his life on and off the pitch, including the moment when his 15 year old son died in his arms.

Terry and his son Daniel Credit: SWNS

Yorath was in the midst of the 1994 World Cup Qualifying campaign when he and his eldest son Daniel decided to have a quick game of football in the back garden of the family home.

When Dan collapsed I thought he was taking the mickey.

But when I got to him there was nothing there. He just made a noise, a kind of last breath. I tried my hardest to get him back to life.

– Terry Yorath
Credit: Rex images

Daniel’s death was caused by an undetected heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

At the time, Yorath made an emotional appeal for greater awareness of the disease: “Make sure that more young people are screened. So we can at least help them and not have to pick them up off the grass.”

But those tragic events in the back garden were to cast a long shadow.

"Daniel’s death definitely increased his misery,” explains Yorath’s daughter, the broadcaster Gabby Logan.

His down days became longer and he was reaching for a glass of whiskey at the end of the day to try and numb the pain. It’s self medicating isn’t it? And you can understand when somebody’s lost a child, how that happens. But I think that kind of spiralled.

– Gabby Logan

In 2004 Yorath narrowly avoided a prison sentence after knocking down a pedestrian while over the drink drive limit.

“It cut me up. A lot,” he recalls. “It’s bad enough having an accident but when there’s somebody else involved, it’s bad. And it did get to me. I’d lost my son and I didn’t want anyone else to lose theirs.

“The best thing I ever did was to give up the Scotch.”

Although Yorath has regrets in his personal life, he remains proud of his distinguished sporting career. He still has a huge following at his former club Leeds United, and is often called on to share his memories and expertise with fans on match days.

But he admits that he’ll never fully be able to come to terms with his son’s death.

“A woman came to the house about a week after Dan died,” he remembers.

“She said, ‘when people say to you time’s a healer, it’s not.’ And I thought, why would she come to the house and say that? I didn’t have a clue.

“But she’s dead right though. It’s not a healer. It’s something you never get over.”

You can see more on this story in Terry Yorath: Life On The Edge. Tonight at 8pm on ITV Cymru Wales