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Former Norwich City star Leon McKenzie pledges to bounce back from prison nightmare to help others

PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 March 2012

Norwich City's Leon McKenzie celebrates his first goal for the club during the match at Ipswich  Pic Simon Finlay copyright EDP 2003

Norwich City's Leon McKenzie celebrates his first goal for the club during the match at Ipswich Pic Simon Finlay copyright EDP 2003

Former Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie who is currently serving a six month jail sentence after admitting perverting the course of justice over a speeding ticket scam has vowed to use his experience to help others battling depression.

The 33-year-old who scored 22 goals in 81 games for the Canaries between 2003 and 2006 was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court last month for sending a series of bogus letters to police in an effort to avoid six speeding convictions.

McKenzie, who retired from professional football in December, said he was suffering from depression around the time the offences were committed.

But the fallen star, who had spells with several other clubs, including Peterborough, Coventry, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Northampton and Kettering, hopes to bounce back from his prison nightmare in a bid to have a positive impact on the lives of others who are suffering in a similar way.

McKenzie, who is currently starting to write his autobiography and has his first music single, a collaboration with So Solid Crew rapper MC Harvey, being released on itunes on Monday, wants to set up a charity which supports people with depression following his release from prison.

The ex-footballer, who used to let his feet do the talking, will be also be turning his hand to public speaking with plans to hold an Evening With Leon McKenzie events in the summer, including one in Norwich, where he will share his life story and message to inspire others.

The future plans have been revealed in letters McKenzie has written from prison in which he has also thanked his family and friends for their unwavering support.

McKenzie wrote: “Thanks to everyone who has sent love and support, It means a lot. I can’t wait to get back in the studio and work on a few more songs. The first single is out on itunes on 19th March, so not long to go. Finally - Leon & Harvey Featuring Lady Leshurr.”

He added: “Every day I am growing stronger. Can’t wait to share with you all my new experiences. These things define our character in our journey through life, so keep going.”

The letters were to friend Louise Harris who works for Think! Promotions and Think! Training and Consultancy, a Norwich-based company which is helping McKenzie with his public speaking and social media work.

She said: “We have been supporting Leon with his Facebook and Twitter whilst he is inside and will be promoting speaking events and supporting him with his public speaking when he gets out.

“Leon really wants to make a positive impact and he has so much to share to inspire others. He really, really wants to give back in terms of doing stuff for depression charities and he wants to set up his own charity.

“So hopefully we will have a depression charity of some description that he will set up to help other people.”

Miss Harris said McKenzie was holding his own in prison, despite missing his family, and trying to take the positives from the experience.

She said: “He’s got to bounce back from this and he’s got to do what’s been given to him at the moment. Obviously some days might be better than others, but he’s just keeping himself busy and is really looking forward to what he can do when he gets out.

“He misses his kids and his wife, that’s probably the hardest bit, but he’s not wallowing in his own pity - he’s taken it like a man and accepts what he’s done was wrong. He’s got such an amazing support - the amount of Twitter messages and emails we’ve got has been amazing - he’s got so many people behind him.”

As previously reported McKenzie was arrested and charged after false documents were sent to Northamptonshire Police between February 2008 and January 2010.

The letters, purporting to be from a fictional garage in London, claimed McKenzie’s car was off the road undergoing mechanical repairs when he was caught speeding.

When originally arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, the striker, who played for the Canaries from 2003 to 2006, made a full confession on the understanding he would receive a caution.

But after a protracted series of court hearings, his caution was withdrawn by Northamptonshire Police because it had been issued without the case being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is compulsory for all indictable (Crown court) offences.

The former Norwich, Northampton and Crystal Palace player subsequently pleaded guilty to the six charges, which relate to separate incidents over the two-year period.

The court had previously heard McKenzie, of Rectory Farm, Northampton, has been working with the Professional Footballers’ Association to help others battling depression.

McKenzie was supported in court by his uncle, former world champion boxer Duke McKenzie and former So Solid Crew rapper MC Harvey.

McKenzie’s first single, Finally, is released on March 19 on itunes and features MC Harvey and Lady Leshurr. It is out on play.com to pre order.

Have you successfully fought depression? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk.

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