Nerves of SteelePhil Steele was at the Llandeilo Lit Fest earlier this year and I got my signed copy of his amazing book:

Nerves of Steele reveals the remarkable story of the successful Welsh rugby international, Phil Steele. An uplifting story about the strength of the human spirit overcoming mental anguish and personal tragedy.

In it he recalls his life from early childhood, family tragedies, depression, anxiety and his path through his professional sports career, teaching and commentating on TV.

Very down to earth in style he describes his life in simple terms with humour, self-deprication and honesty. Many anecdotes probably will mean more to people who lived in Wales longer than me and who follow Rugby more intensely than I do.
That said, the main inspiration is that someone like Steele breaks down the barriers of mental health by ‘coming out’ in public as one of its sufferers. Having a man perceived to be made of steel admit his worst thoughts, how he suffered from Catholic guilt is exactly what the public needs to change perception and reach full acceptance.

In real life Steele was exactly as the book brings him across. He answered questions tirelessly, was happy to speakt o people in public and in private, advice them on problems with mental health and answered all questions thoguhtfully and honestly.

An excellent book.

Known to thousands of rugby fans as a knowledgeable, passionate and witty broadcaster, and as an entertaining and popular after-dinner speaker, Phil Steele’s confident demeanour and humorous disposition mask a life-long battle against depression and anxiety heightened by heartbreak and tragedy in his personal life. Nerves of Steele is a remarkable story and reveals the real Phil Steele, a man known only by his very closest friends and family.The Cardiff-born ‘Ely Boy’, who dreamed of playing for Wales, suffered his first bout of debilitating clinical depression when he saw his promising rugby career with Newport RFC wrecked by injury at only 23, just as his eye-catching performances had earned him a call up to the Wales B squad.The curse of mental illness and its malevolent twin, chronic anxiety, hung over Phil for years, who describes his suffering as ‘like living under a cloak of constant unease’ and at times even sapped his will to go on living. His vulnerability was repeatedly tested by losing both patents whilst still in his twenties, his younger sister to alcoholism and his beloved wife Liz who died from a brain tumour aged 48, only a month after being diagnosed. Nerves of Steele is, however, an uplifting story of how, despite all the mental anguish and personal tragedy, Phil’s determination, strength of character and infectious personality has enabled him to conquer his condition and live a full and rewarding personal and professional life. With mental illness believed to affect one in every four people, Nerves of Steele will resonate with those that have experienced it themselves as well as their loved ones who’ve also been affected by it – and offer them all real hope for the future.

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