“I felt like every day was Groundhog Day. I felt like, ‘I can’t get out of this. This circle of intensity, this ball of fire'.” 

Martyn Waghorn felt the pressures of performing for Rangers more profoundly than most. 

Now 31 and plying his trade with Championship promotion hopefuls Coventry, he looks back on a difficult spell in his professional and personal life with a level of honesty about his mental health you don’t often see from a footballer. 

He is not alone as an elite sportsman. The suffocating demands of being an athlete has taken its toll on some of the very best. 

Former world tennis no.1 Naomi Osaka and F1 driver Lando Norris are just the latest to come forward with issues in recent years but history is littered with examples of top stars who struggled without an appropriate level of help and understanding. 

At a club like Rangers, where the intensity of the media glare is unremitting and fans are everywhere you go, the pressure can be overwhelming. It’s a cliche, but the 'goldfish bowl' idiom has stood the test of time for a reason.

And for Waghorn, the sense of being unable to find balance in his life was the trigger for a dark depression. 

A private and family-oriented person, the striker struggled to set boundaries between work and family time in a city where it can be impossible to switch off. 

Toiling alongside his teammates in Mark Warburton’s newly-promoted side against Brendan Rodgers' unbeatable Celtic, there was no respite. 

“I wasn’t scoring or playing well, I didn’t have the greatest second season,” he admits. “I struggled with depression.  

“I didn’t speak about it and I should have been a lot more open. I felt like I should have had more help from the managerial side. I spoke to the manager about it and I didn’t get as much help as I wanted. This is why I try and be as open as possible and try and help people."

It's perhaps surprising to hear this portrait of Warburton given other former charges have praised his man-management as a core strength.

Waghorn is keen to stress he found others at the club were much more helpful in his treatment and recovery. 

“Don’t get me wrong. The people around me, the doctors and the physios at Rangers were unbelievable," he said. "I’m grateful for that because I don’t know what my path would have been other than that.

“Seeing how relentless it is week in, week out, that’s why I really struggled. 

“I wish I had another way or another source to manage it and things might have been different. It was a really difficult period for Rangers and myself.” 

While Waghorn had a tough time adapting to the specific demands of football in Glasgow, he had a warm relationship with the Ibrox club’s fans. Like any player, there was the odd supporter who threw a bit of stick his way but the vast majority were “unbelievable”. 

Fans from the other side of the city were, as you might expect, less positive for a high-profile Rangers player to be around. 

A video went viral after Waghorn confronted a schoolboy who shouted abuse in Giffnock when the striker was picking some takeaway. He was roundly criticised for calling the youngster out over his swearing before telling him to “get back to school”. 

The consensus was that Waghorn shouldn’t have got involved and while there is truth in that, incidents such as this were just the thin end of the wedge. 

One moment at a local theme park was particularly unpleasant. 

“I remember going to a theme park with the kids,” he recalled. “I was standing with my little man and he was shoved onto the floor and fans were giving me a bit of stick while I was at the park.  

“I was getting abuse, the kids were getting abuse and I just thought ‘This is not what I’m about’. 

"On the pitch, say whatever you want to me. Outside of that, this is my personal space and this what’s very difficult for some players, myself included, to differentiate work and private life, it’s really difficult to get that balance.” 

It’s a perennial struggle for players in the public eye that’s only got more difficult in the age of the camera phone.  

Arguably as famous as film stars and top musicians within the city limits, it’s inevitable that some may struggle with the intense demands. 

So what advice would Waghorn give to players struggling with mental health issues right now? 

“Don’t be frightened to be honest about how you are feeling,” he said. “It’s not just about feeling sad or feeling down. Talk about your performances if you feel like someone has given you a bit of stick or you’re not in a good place.  

“That’s why I think Steven Gerrard was an unbelievable appointment for the club – he's been through it all, the highs and the lows – and I got the sense he was someone you were able to talk to. He’d understand, he got it as a footballer and a person.” 

There will be more from Martyn Waghorn's interview with Jonny McFarlane tomorrow as he looks back over his career in Light Blue.