Aston Villa £22m signing bravely opens up on 'drinking depression' after horror injury

Wesley left Aston Villa in the summer of 2023
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)

Former Aston Villa striker Wesley has revealed he cried for 20 days and turned to drinking after suffering a serious knee injury in the 2-1 win over Burnley on New Year's Day in 2020.

The Brazilian - who scored his fifth Premier League goal at Turf Moor - was stretchered off with 20 minutes to go after a scissor-like challenge by Burnley's Ben Mee which resulted in the abrupt end of Wesley's first season at Villa Park. It was a long road back for the striker, who returned to the matchday squad 480 days later in the 2020/21 season.

Wesley spent time on loan at Club Brugge, Internacional and Levante before leaving Villa in the summer of 2023. He joined Stoke City for the season just gone, but struggled for form and is now searching for a new club.

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Having made a steady start to his Premier League career at Villa after recording five goal involvements in his first 12 games, Wesley was called-up to represent Brazil for the first time. It made the injury he'd suffer just six weeks after making his Selecao debut all the more devastating.

"It was very difficult for me because I was selected for the national team in November and then on January 1st I was injured," Wesley told human too. "I scored against Burnley as well.

"The defender went in, I’ve got a scar on my leg. He went in and I got hurt. But I didn’t think it would be serious. The next day, the doctor said I needed an operation. I did the tests, everything had to be operated on.

"Mentally I was very shaken. My wife was with me. I was really shaken up. I went into drinking depression. I drank practically every day. I cried every day, practically for 20 days."

Asked what helped him through the toughest part, Wesley said: "I think it was my wife and god. At the time I wasn’t Christian, today I am Christian.

"My wife helped me a lot, she always talked to me, that I was going to turn it around because in this period it’s good to have someone with you.

"Players live under a lot of pressure. Not just playing football, but off the pitch as well. I’m practically the provider for my family and have to help everyone.

"Sometimes people who are going to the stadium, they see us playing happy, scoring goals, other things. But they don’t know what is behind us."

"That [Brazil call-up] was the happiest moment of my career," Wesley continued. "I played eight minutes against Argentina and it was a great experience.

"The national team is something that every young child who plays football thinks about, having the privilege of playing for the national team. I worked hard to get into the national team and when the day came I was very happy."