Rio Ferdinand has revealed that he turned to alcohol following the death of his wife, admitting he got up in the middle of the night to drink.
The former England captain's wife Rebecca, 34, the mother of the couple's three children, died in 2015 after a battle with breast cancer.
Since his loss, the 38-year-old said he can sympathise with people who go to "dark places".
He said he relied on people around him and kept going for his children, but revealed that he now understands how it can affect those who may not have the same support.
The ex-Manchester United defender said: "At the beginning I was drinking a lot at night time.
"We have a lady lucky enough who lives with us, she would go to bed and I'd come back down in the middle of the night and probably drink a lot for the first three or four months.
"But I would get up and do the school run and stuff."
Ferdinand discusses the death of his wife as part of a new BBC documentary exploring the impact on parents who lose their partners.
The footballer, now a single parent to their three children Lorenz, 10, Tate, eight, and Tia, five, said his children were his inspiration to “try and make things work.”
He added: "[But] some people aren't afforded that, some people haven't got that, and that's when I started to become a bit more sympathetic when people do go to places that are dark places.
"I used to look at people or read stories and think, how can you be so selfish and commit suicide or attempt to commit suicide or whatever.
"But I can actually sympathise now because I understand that you get to places where you think, if I didn't have that network of people or my kids who I use as an inspiration to be able to get up and think straight, I can understand that."
Ferdinand said tasks like the school run were particularly tough after Rebecca died.
He said: "The first time they went back to school, which was probably about three or four days later, I woke up in the morning and I was scrambling around the house.
"They were late - it's the first time they've ever been late for school because I was having a panic attack in the house. I'm having to go into a room on my own and sit there and go, 'What happens now?'
"And then I've got one of them in the car going, 'Mum wouldn't do this.'
"You just don't know what to do really."
Ferdinand's 60-minute BBC documentary will see the star try to understand how widowed parents manage grief and support their children.
It is to air on BBC1 at 9pm on Tuesday, March 28.