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Richard Keogh lifts lid on Derby car crash and sacking which led to depression

The veteran defender, now at Blackpool, has spoken of the controversial incident that involved his ex-Derby teammates Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence back in 2019

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Drink-driving footballers told they brought ‘shame on club’ as they avoid jail

Richard Keogh has spoken in-depth about the horrific car crash incident that led to his controversial sacking by Derby County and how it sent him spiralling into depression.

The centre-half, now 35, was left with a serious knee injury following the episode involving teammates Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett in September 2019.

Despite him only being a passenger in Lawrence’s car, it was Keogh who was sacked by the club, while the other two players were fined before later being convicted of drink driving in court.

Speaking in-depth about the episode to the Guardian , Keogh has replayed that night’s events and has admitted how the whole episode had a severe affect on his mental health.

“I hadn’t spent the evening with Tom,” he said.

“I had no reason to believe he was over the limit. Everyone was in there before me so I didn’t think: ‘Hang on a minute.’ It was just: ‘OK. I need to get home. Let’s go.’



Richard Keogh was sacked by Derby following his involvement in the episode, in 2019




“The next thing I know I’m waking up and speaking to the paramedics.”

The incident saw Keogh get in Lawrence’s car, along with two other unnamed players, after a team night out in a village pub in rural Derbyshire.

Keogh claims he was under the impression Lawrence was sober, but just a minute into the drive, the Range Rover carrying them ploughed into the back of Bennett’s Mercedes at a give-way point, before veering off into a lamp-post.




Lawrence’s Range Rover careered into a lamp-post with Keogh injured in the collision
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Image:

SWNS)




All those involved then fled the scene, except Keogh, who was left behind, unconscious.

After coming to, Keogh detailed how he convinced paramedics he was ok to walk home, before eventually being picked up by police officers and escorted back to his house.

Lawrence and Bennett were later arrested and would plead guilty at Derby magistrates court in October 2019 to drink-driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident. They were hit with driving bans and community service.

Asked about his relationship with Lawrence now, Keogh revealed they were still in touch after his old team-mate came to visit him and noticing genuine feelings of “remorse”.



Tom Lawrence was given community service for his role in the incident




“If we could all turn back the clock, we would.”

Despite only being a passenger in the car, Keogh was the player who Derby chose to come down hardest on.

His contract was ripped up, with Derby citing gross misconduct due to him not wearing a seatbelt in the accident – a legal battle Keogh later won, with the club ordered to pay up the rest of his contract.

His sacking was after he had already rejected an offer on reduced terms. Meanwhile, Lawrence and Bennett – younger players with greater resale value – were retained.

Keogh’s contract had been due to expire at the end of that season, but he admits being “upset” by the way his situation was handled.

“I think it’s pretty obvious to most people what happened,” he said. “Derby tried to say it was a negotiation but in my view it wasn’t. I felt pressured to accept the offer.”







A lengthy spell on the sidelines followed for Keogh, following a knee injury as a result of the crash.

He admits the physical pain was “horrific, 12 out of 10” but mentally there were also some real low points during his time away from football.

Keogh admitted to feeling depressed but denies he ever contemplated suicide, despite his wife Claire admitting fears he might harm himself.



Richard Keogh is now at Blackpool




Charlie even admitted he “had a full-on breakdown one night” as Keogh explained how his treatment by Derby made him lose his love for the game.

But after contemplation and recovery, he is now in a happy place.

Keogh has since returned to football and is now back in the Championship with Blackpool, following brief spells at MK Dons and Huddersfield.

He has not even ruled out a return to Derby one day in the future if the opportunity presents itself.

*In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected].


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