Sonny Pike was the wonderkid that had it all. He was the gifted young footballer destined to be a star, until it all came crashing down to earth.
His reputation during the 1990s exploded and there was immeasurable hype that came with it.
Dutch giants Ajax had swooped on him, he was touted as English football’s Diego Maradona and his legs were insured for £1million at the age of 11.
Coca Cola, McDonald’s and Paul Smith all queued to sponsor him, and he appeared on TV shows like Fantasy Football and Blue Peter.
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But bubbles tend to burst. If his rise to fame was quick, then the speed with which it was all taken away was double time.
It all unravelled to such a point where the footballing boy wonder was stood on top of a bridge – known locally as Suicide Bridge – contemplating ending it all aged 15.
These days Sonny Pike is a London taxi driver living in Hertfordshire, and he runs his own football academy just off the M25.
Sonny is the ultimate cautionary tale for child footballing prodigies and now he is telling his own side of the story in an explosive new book that was released on May 27.
He exposes the reckless ambition, the broken promises, and the lost innocence that no one really saw when he was always in the media.
He also details the way it all fell apart, the spiral into depression and how he has built his life back up to where it is today.
This is the story of the greatest footballer that never was.
Sonny Pike: The Greatest Footballer That Never Was, published by Reach Sport, is on sale now. Save 25% from reachsportshop.com
Interview: Alasdair Hooper
All music in this episode is courtesy of Otis McDonald
Images: With thanks to the Reach Sport and Sonny Pike