I was very touched the other day to read an interview with the ex-Arsenal midfielder Denilson. Yet this week he spoke about how lonely he felt in English Football saying at times he was miserable.
He explains the surreal experience of performing in front of 60,000 people to then spending the rest of the week not talking to anyone.
It wouldn’t have helped the criticism he received, which at its kindest suggested he was being given too many chances.
It would be unfair to give a player a hard time if he broke his leg so why is your brain being ill any different?
This is a topic close to my heart and I do feel we have got better as a society of talking about mental health, yet some still need educating.
Only this season, Mustafi and Xhaka have spoken about how verbal abuse and trolls affected their mental state, yet I’m not sure people took that as serious as they should. Here is a man telling the world emotionally he’s struggling, and some were concerned more on if he should have been our captain or not. He did the right thing by speaking up so the club could offer him support accordingly.
Denilson was as young as 19 when he was experiencing this. Thankfully, the likes of Arsene Wenger and Gilberto Silva recognised his struggles, so took their time to support his social life in London.
We often think of footballers as having lots of money, living in big houses, driving fast cars – so what have they got to be sad about?
Why so many sports people, movie stars, rock stars, etc take their own lives is that they feel they will be judged for claiming depression when the outside think you have nothing to be depressed about. It doesn’t work like that. You can be surrounded by a hundred people but feel on your own. Love could all be all around, yet you feel worthless.
Many sports people will be vulnerable at the moment as they have lost their outlet, their routine, their escape, etc. I believe it’s hard for anyone to speak up.
If Denilson makes one person aware of the subject, then that’s his greatest contribution. Luckily, Mr Wenger noticed he needed his help away from the pitch, but some don’t have that.
With the world in self isolation some are forced to be alone. Please think about those people. Take the time to message or ring someone you haven t heard from in a while.
Social media is a dangerous place. Think about what you are writing. Words have meaning. What might be banter to you could impact someone’s life.
Even on here let’s be kind to each other.
Reading Denilson’s story reminds me …. we have to be better at looking after each other.