Former Salford Red Devils captain and England international Malcolm Alker dies aged 45

FORMER Salford and England star Malcolm Alker has died at the age of 45.

His former club confirmed the news on Sunday, saying: “It is with huge sadness that we learn of the passing of former-Salford captain, Malcolm Alker. 

“All our thoughts are with Malcolm’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

Alker, who was born in Wigan, made his debut for the club in 1997, making 292 appearances between then and 2010, spending his entire professional career with the club.

Named captain in 2000 at the age of 21, he also represented Lancashire in 2002, and he played for England in 2005.

During the latter stages of his playing career he suffered from depression and in his autobiography ‘The Devil Within’, released in 2012, he admitted to taking cocaine and growth hormones while playing Rugby League.

“People may be thinking I’ve decided to bring out a book because I’m still bitter about how things worked out for me at Salford towards the end of my career. That’s not true,” he said at the time.

“The book is a real warts-and-all account of my life and my career. I said I wanted to go to the grave with a clear conscience and it tells of the mistakes that I’ve made in life.

“I once went a full season needing a shoulder reconstruction but battled on. I also underwent a course of human growth hormone.

“I became depressed but, by coming clean, I hope what I’ve revealed will see things improve within the game for player welfare.

“I’m also hoping that young players will take note, realise the pressures of professional rugby and the pitfalls and don’t make the mistakes that I did.”

Later in his life, Alker was sentenced to four years imprisonment on 12 January 2018 for the armed robbery of a KFC restaurant and a Tesco Express store in Wigan in October 2017.