Robbie Williams says he was ‘unable to leave the sofa’ for THREE YEARS while battling agoraphobia

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HE once shot a music video clad in a pair of tiger-print pants, boasted he was “rich beyond his wildest dreams” and released an album titled The Ego Has Landed.

But seven years later, Robbie Williams was housebound — “unable to leave the sofa” — as he battled with the debilitating disorder agoraphobia.

Robbie Williams has revealed he was agoraphobic from 2006 to 2009
Rex Features

Robbie Williams has revealed he was agoraphobic from 2006 to 2009[/caption]

At the lowest point of his condition — which leaves sufferers fearful of being in situations where escape might be difficult — he turned down a £15million offer to host smash-hit US series American Idol, because he could not face going out in public.

Robbie says: “My career had gone stratospheric and taken me to Mars, and I needed some time to get my equilibrium back and get myself back together.

“It was my body and mind telling me I shouldn’t go anywhere, that I couldn’t do anything. It was telling me to just wait — so I literally just sat and waited.

“I was agoraphobic from around 2006 to 2009. Those years were just spent wearing a cashmere kaftan, eating Kettle Chips, growing a beard and staying in.

Robbie rose to fame as the cherubic-faced 16-year-old as part of Take That
Getty – Contributor

Robbie rose to fame as the cherubic-faced 16-year-old in Take That[/caption]

“I remember they offered me £15million to take over from Simon Cowell on American Idol, plus a big gig in the States, but I turned it down because I wasn’t leaving the sofa at the time. I just couldn’t.”

For Robbie, the turning point came when he heard The Killers’ song Human on the radio.

With lyrics including, “And sometimes I get nervous / When I see an open door”, it was, he says, his lightbulb moment.

From that point, and with a lot of therapy, he slowly made a return to public life.

The singer was a judge on last years X Factor, alongside wife Ayda Field, Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell
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The singer was a judge on last year’s X Factor, alongside wife Ayda Field, Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell[/caption]

However, a comeback appearance on The X Factor in October 2009 did not go to plan.

The sliding stage doors got stuck, and one commentator slated Robbie’s “wide-eyed, unblinking and sweaty” rendition of his comeback single, Bodies, adding that he “wasn’t the superstar he used to be”.

A few weeks later, the singer received a call from his old Take That bandmates and agreed to a reunion tour and album. Their 2011 Progress tour broke all previous records for ticket sales and extra dates were added to meet demand.

It was when the Robbie of old finally re-emerged.

Actress and presenter Ayda Field married Robbie in 2010
Corbis

Actress and presenter Ayda Field married Robbie in 2010[/caption]

He says: “I remember listening to that Killers song and something in that moment made me think, ‘I had better get my a**e in gear, put an album together and tour’.

“There was no rhyme or reason why five minutes before that, it hadn’t happened. But when I did come back, it felt so unnatural. It’s why that Bodies performance was so bad — I didn’t know what the f*** I was doing, it didn’t seem natural to me any more.

“I had to re-learn how to entertain. It wasn’t an easy process — it was like having a car crash and then learning how to walk again.

“If it wasn’t for Take That, and rejoining them, I don’t know if I’d have come back at all.

Robbie was snapped drinking at his home shortly after leaving Take That
Getty

Robbie was snapped drinking at his home shortly after leaving Take That[/caption]

“Initially, I got to hide in plain sight — I could hide behind my boys. They helped an awful lot.”

Robbie had first sprung into the public’s consciousness as a cherubic-faced 16-year-old, one fifth of the Nineties boy band. Until then, he had been working part-time as a double-glazing salesman.

After quitting Take That in 1995, following internal rumblings about his partying, he launched a solo career the following year.

In 2002, he signed the then biggest recording deal in British music history, worth a reported £80million. When asked about it, he quipped: “I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams.”

A reunion tour and album with Take That helped the Robbie of old re-emerge
Getty Images – Getty

A reunion tour and album with Take That helped the Robbie of old re-emerge[/caption]

Today, aged 45, Robbie remains the country’s biggest pop star — and certainly its most charismatic.

Ahead of headlining at British Summer Time Hyde Park Sunday night, he continues to sell out arenas.

Tomorrow evening — much like Barbra Streisand did last weekend — Robbie may bring one of his eight dogs, Wally, out on stage. He says: “Wally was my emotional support animal — that’s how we got him on the plane back from America.”

Robbie has recently conquered the States, with an acclaimed Las Vegas residency. He now has two million transatlantic Instagram followers — 100,000 more than Mick Jagger.

Robbie in 2005, just one year before he became agoraphobic
Rex Features

Robbie in 2005, just one year before he became agoraphobic[/caption]

While the dad-of-three may not be quite as snake-hipped as the legendary 28in-waisted Rolling Stone, he is not far off — in part thanks to WW, formerly Weight Watchers.

He says: “Before WW, I had tried every diet going. I hadn’t seen a potato since 1997. Now, so many more foods are back in my diet, including potatoes.”

Once dubbed “Blobby” Williams — and “the fat dancer from Take That” by Noel Gallagher — he has seen his weight fluctuate by up to three stone over the past two decades.

But the 2019 Robbie is trim, taut and toned — and so he should be, given that he trains, mainly with boxing, six days a week.

Even so, he says he will never be entirely confident and has been diagnosed with BDD, or body dysmorphic disorder — when a person is convinced they have a major flaw in their appearance.

Chatting from his rented North London mansion, Robbie says: “I have appalling self-image and remember going to see this therapist and telling him I was hugely overweight.

“He told me I was dysmorphic, and it explained a lot.

“I went away feeling amazing.

The music star performed during the opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup
PA:Press Association

The music star performed during the opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup[/caption]

“I am pretty much in the best shape of my life right now but I will always have that feeling of, ‘Oh, I could lose another 10lb’. I don’t know if that will ever change. But right now, I’m more confident than I’ve ever been. At 45, I’ve just started to like myself a little bit more.”

And for his new-found happiness, Robbie — who has sold nearly 90 million albums and won a record 18 Brit awards — credits counselling.

He also firmly believes the Government should introduce therapy into schools.

Predictably, I ask if his glamorous wife Ayda Field, 40, who he married in 2010, is to thank for his transformation from tubby, booze-loving, cocaine-riddled pop star — in 2007, Robbie checked into rehab, high on various Class As.

Robbie says hes done the work that resulted in his transformation, not wife Ayda
Getty – Contributor

Robbie says he’s ‘done the work’ that resulted in his transformation, not wife Ayda[/caption]

Half-eye-rolling, half-sighing, he replies: “You can credit Ayda if you like. I know there’s a theme whereby people like to go, ‘And then he met Ayda, and everything was great’.

“People want that to be the thing that happened and, in many ways, it is. But also, actually, I have done an awful lot of work on myself, with or without Ayda.

“My life is f****** ace because she’s with me. But I have to give myself a bit of a pat on the back, too — I’ve done the work.

“Therapy should be mandatory. Everybody should be made to have it in the same way we are all made to do PE at school.

Robbie believes he is more confident than ever
Getty – Contributor

Robbie believes he is more confident than ever[/caption]

“There should be a session of therapy in schools, too. I think it would help immensely.”

Besides a host of celebrity pals, Robbie and Ayda are also friends with royalty — in particular, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Last October, the couple’s six-year-old daughter Teddy stole the show as bridesmaid at Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank.

Recently it also emerged that Robbie’s former PA, Melissa Touabti, went on to work for the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, before quitting after six months.

So what does Robbie think of the American former starlet?

Robbie and Ayda plan to renew their wedding vows next year
Getty – Contributor

Robbie and Ayda plan to renew their wedding vows next year[/caption]

He says: “I’ve never met her but I feel like she can’t do anything right at the moment. It must be really difficult for her.

“There seems to be a whole heap of heaviness coming her way. But she’s just a girl who fell in love with a guy and is trying to make the best of it all, so good luck to her.”

Robbie and Ayda plan to renew their own wedding vows next year and he says: “Ayda is planning it all after I proposed again on her birthday.”

Last September, the couple had their third child, surrogate daughter Coco.


Mortifyingly, when I remark on how “big-boned” their beaming baby is, Rob shoots back: “She’s in the top 97 percentile for her weight. She’s like this giant, smiling cannonball.”

Although Robbie may credit himself for his reinvention, it’s clear that Ayda remains the boss.

Asked if he would like more children, he says: “Whenever I look at Coco, I just fall more and more in love. But if we have any more babies, that’s up to Ayda. Whenever she wants to stop, we stop. But I’d go again!”

  •  Robbie Williams headlines the Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Hyde Park on Sunday


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