HE held one of the most important jobs in the country, as the former Prime Minister’s right hand man.

But to Burnley FC fans Alastair Campbell is simply the club’s most famous follower — having played with football greats Diego Maradona and Pele to raise money for his beloved team.

His first visit to Turf Moor was aged four, and ever since Alastair has been a staunch supporter attending both home and away games for the best part of 50 years.

And when putting together his second book of memories from number 10, Power And The People, out last week, Alastair said he was surprised to read in his notes just how often he attended matches.

He said: “Going through the diaries, even when it was really busy I got to an awful lot of the games. I don’t know how I fit it in to be honest.

“But it’s always been a part of me,” said Alastair who grew up in Keighley, West Yorkshire, the son of a Scottish vet.

“I would travel over with my dad. He took me to Huddersfield, Leeds and Burnley, and Burnley was the one that stuck.

“I think it was the colours partially, but mainly the atmosphere. Where the Bob Lord stand is now we used to go down the front there. And I loved it.

“The people are so friendly. Only once or twice have I had a full political argument.

"One was away at Fulham and we lost, and that was the only time I’ve thought ‘leave me alone’.”

Alastair, who has lived in London since graduating from Cambridge University, can be found in the directors’ box during home games.

But on away trips, he’s in the thick of it surrounded by claret and blue scarves.

“I wouldn’t go in the directors’ box at home if it wasn’t the fact that it’s a less stuffy one than others and you’re right in the heart of the stand with people who are just as passionate as you are,” he said.

“One of my boys reminded me the other day that before it was illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, I’d go all the way from London to Burnley on the phone to him.

“I noted down in the diaries that I appreciated the fact that Downing Street would leave me alone from 3pm until 5pm on match days,” he laughed.

Power And The People, which covers 1997-1999 and follows on from The Blair Years, published three years ago is a whopping 746 pages.

It charts the first two years of the Labour government and includes the death of Princess Diana, the Northern Ireland peace process, Robin Cook leaving his wife for Gaynor Regan, Bernie Ecclestone's controversial £1 million donation, and more.

The book isn't an uplifting read, due to Alastair's frequent bouts of depression and obvious irritation in dealing with certain people on a day-to-day basis.

Gordon Brown, Cherie Blair, Peter Mandelson and even his mate Tony Blair receive short shrift at times.

"I think that sometimes my judgments were harsh," he admits.

"Gordon could be impossible but he was also superb in so many different ways.

"Looking back, it's obvious at times that I was depressed."

Even when things were going well, Alastair, 53, writes of his battles with depression, having gone without a proper break for years.

And now the father of three still campaigns to raise awareness around mental illness including filming a BBC2 documentary about his own breakdown in 1986.

“For too long mental illness has been a thing nobody wants to talk about. People want to pretend it’s not there and that creates taboo, stigma and discrimination,” Alastair explained.

Revealing how he wrote the diaries as a ‘dumping ground’ for his thoughts at the end of every day, Alastair used his memories as a form of therapy.

“We all know someone who has some form of depression,” he went on. “For me, getting the balance right at Downing Street was quite a challenge. I still get depression now but less than I used to.”

Still active in Labour politics, he now splits his time between writing — his first passion, after starting his career in journalism — speaking, fundraising, politics and campaigns.

In his spare time he runs and is an avid Twitter and Facebook fan, with more than 50,000 followers. And when the mood takes him he has a blast on his bagpipes too.

But Alastair admits that sometimes he misses being in the thick of politics. Although he says his wife and children are happier now he's no longer consumed by the weight of office.

"I hope that my wife Fiona would say I was slightly easier to live with than I used to be. Ultimately there comes a point where you realise there are other people you have to make choices for as well, and I've never been very good at that."

Another two volumes of his diaries will be out this year and he plans to write a novel about a coalition government.

In the meantime he's busy, but for once not overworked, and most importantly, he’s much happier these days.

He added: “I’m certainly happier more of the time and I have more freedom to pick and choose what I do, so I’m in a good place right now.”

n The Alastair Campbell Diaries Volume 2: Power And The People, price £25. Available in bookshops now.