Football helps turn Toby’s life around

Toby McKillop with Scottish international squad manager, Gordon Strachan.
Toby McKillop with Scottish international squad manager, Gordon Strachan.

For one north-east man, the past year could be described as something of an incredible journey.

Toby McKillop (38), originally from Fraserburgh, has had to overcome his fair share of personal problems.

However, by the time you read this, he will be experiencing the opportunity of a lifetime, representing Scotland at the Homeless football World Cup in Chile.

A heroin addict for almost two decades, Toby decided that enough was enough and undertook a six-month rehabilitation programme.

During his rehabilitation, an old talent for football was unearthed and last Wednesday he flew out to South America to take on the rest of the world.

“I took a couple of wrong turns in life and ended up addicted to heroin and other stuff.

“Street Soccer was something I was able to focus on and make a commitment to and it was something that was able to take me away from what was going on at the time,” he said.

Toby began playing in goal and the coach recognised that he had played as a goalie when he was younger and asked if Ihefancied trialling for a Glasgow side in the Homeless Scottish Cup.

“He said that if we won the tournament we would go onto the trials for the national team and could end up playing in the World Cup.

“Our team won the competition and I got through the trials and I flew out to Chile on October 16,” he said.

Despite his success, Toby has not forgotten the huge part Phoenix Futures, the rehabilitation centre in Glasgow, has played in turning his life around.

“The gratitude I have for Phoenix is unbelievable,” he said.

“I’m a welder by trade and hoping to get back into work shortly after I come back from Chile.”

He added: They’re a saying that if you change nothing, nothing will change and I needed to change something in my life.”