Ian McCall left Partick Thistle to overcome gambling addiction
Ayr United boss Ian McCall has admitted he left Partick Thistle in 2011 to overcome a gambling addiction.
McCall departed Thistle while they were in the second tier and returned to management at Somerset Park in 2015.
"I've never spoken about it before but I battled this on my own," McCall told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.
"I didn't really speak about it much and I don't, it's a very private thing."
Two years on from McCall leaving, the Jags secured promotion to Scotland's top flight and this season Thistle are enjoying their first Premiership top-six finish.
"I didn't leave Thistle when they were on the verge of having a very good team again because I wanted to leave football," former Falkirk and Dundee United manager McCall explained.
"I left because I had to sort myself out.
"I was standing places thinking I was invisible as the manager of Partick Thistle. Looking back, it was just a horrendously bad period in my life.
"I felt the need to conquer it and I did it my way."
With the issue of gambling in football having been highlighted by the Scottish FA and England's FA taking disciplinary action against players and club officials, McCall stressed that there is a line to be drawn between addiction and other betting habits.
"This is a serious, serious subject and there has to be a distinction between a gambling addiction, which I went through myself, and people betting on football matches," said McCall, who played for nine Scottish clubs, including Rangers and Dunfermline.
"A gambling addiction is way, way too serious to talk about in a football show and people who talk about it, they don't get it, they don't understand it, they've not been through it.
"I'm six years free on 9 October this year and that has no relation at all to a footballer going and putting £5 on a football team to win a game of football, no relation whatsoever.
"When it's as serious as it gets, you need to approach things and your whole life in a very, very different way and people that know about it are the only ones that know about it.
"It's an addiction that people are very blasé about at times, I think they don't get just how serious it is."
Ayr were promoted to the Championship via last season's play-offs but could not stay up this season.
They finished bottom after Saturday's 2-1 defeat by Raith Rovers and McCall is determined to get them back in the second tier by winning next season's League One.
"Ayr United, we need to go and win a league, it's quite simple," he added.