Young footballer took his own life after being dropped by Manchester City Academy, inquest hears

·3-min read

A former Manchester City youth academy player who took his own life two years after being released didn't get enough support from the club, an inquest has heard.

Jeremy Wisten's father, Manila, said he was disappointed with the way Manchester City had treated his son after he left.

"He was still carrying injuries and he did not believe he was receiving the right support at Manchester City to find a new club," he said.

Grace Wisten found her 18-year-old son hanged in his sister's bedroom at their family home in Greater Manchester on 24 October last year.

His father broke down in tears as he told a coroner's court about the moment his wife discovered their son's body.

"I heard a scream I'll never forget."

Jeremy had been a member of Manchester City's academy since he was 13 but in 2018 he injured his knee which stopped him from practising regularly. He was later released from the programme.

He was offered trials at various other clubs, but none of those opportunities led to a place.

He also felt frustrated and isolated by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Jeremy's father said he was very popular at the academy and at college.

"He did have ups and downs in his mood levels, but this had gone on for two years," said Mr Wisten.

Jeremy's family didn't notice anything was wrong with their son on the day he took his own life.

"At 6pm his mum shouted up to say dinner was ready, he said 'just leave it down there for me'. At 9 pm she checked his room and then his sister's room and it was locked."

Jeremy's mother rushed to find a key, but it was too late.

"To us, it felt like something within himself had collapsed," said Mr Wisten.

Jeremy's family were completely shocked by his death.

"He was ready to do his driving test and wanted to go to university to study forensic science."

Manchester City's Academy Director told the inquest that their psychologist met Jeremy and didn't raise any concerns.

Jason Wilcox said the decision not to offer Jeremy a scholarship was based on his long term potential, not on his injury, which he said wasn't career-threatening.

"When a player's injured they can feel isolated from the pitch. They feel at that moment their career is over and it's not, it's the start of a new journey for them."

Mr Wilcox said it would have been "extremely negligent" not to review and improve the club's processes after Jeremy's death.

"We now carry out player exit surveys and we have a parent portal. We also have an improved process of managing the expectations of parents and boys."

Jeremy was born in Malawi and his family moved to Greater Manchester when he was a baby, eventually settling in Wythenshawe.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, coroner Zak Golombeck compared Jeremy to his footballing idol Vincent Kompany.

"He too is someone known for his physicality and intelligence."

But Mr Golombeck said that while many people will rightly focus on Jeremy's incredible achievements on the pitch, he was also struck by how Jeremy has been described by those who knew him.

"He was a selfless, kind-hearted, genuine, down to earth guy," said Mr Golombek reading from a statement by Jeremy's college friends.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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