Football stars united for Prince William’s mental health campaign

Rival stars from the world of football have united to tackle the subject of mental health, as part of Prince William’s Heads Up campaign.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp and defender Andy Robertson – who are still celebrating after being crowned Premier League champions – spoke of the pressures of the coronavirus lockdown and how the team came together to help one another.

In a separate discussion Manchester United's Jesse Lingard spoke to presenter Maya Jama about how he bravely stepped in to look after his younger siblings last year as his mum battled depression.

Reflecting on his team's incredible championship-winning season, Klopp said: “There were moments in the lockdown when we thought it is a proper setback from all of our dreams.

“So it was a setback but it was a setback for all of us together, and we could calm each other down.”

He added: “[It] helps if you don’t feel all the burden on your own shoulders.

"If you have a group of friends or a group of colleagues and you can create an atmosphere like this, that helps… I think there is no problem big enough or small enough that you cannot talk about it.”

Discussing his experiences of talking about mental health, Scottish international Robertson, 26, said becoming a father had changed his approach to talking about his feelings which he had preciously bottled up when embarking on his career.

He revealed: “When I started making it professional, I think that’s when I struggled the most… I think probably since the last year or two, since we’ve had kids and that then I’ve started to open up more.

“I used to be one that blocked everything up, I thought my problems are my problems.

“I think mentally it has been a lot easier because I have opened up a lot better and [that’s] something I wish I had done earlier.”

Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard was joined by Maya Jama in Stockport where they discussed family life, anxiety and performance pressures.

In the film, available on the Heads Together YouTube channel from today, the England midfielder, 27, said: “Last season, I was going through some things off the field with my family so it was difficult for me to perform on the field.

“I’m very family orientated and my mum was going through some things last year with depression… so in the meantime, I had to look after my little brother and sister who’s 12 and 15.

“I was still performing at the same time.

“You just get to that point where you’re like, I’ve got to actually say something. I spoke to my family and stuff like that. It felt so much better.”

Presenter Maya opened up about how talking openly has helped her address a “spiral” of traumatic events in her childhood after her dad was imprisoned and later her boyfriend was tragically killed.

She said: “I was three years old when my dad went to prison and then he was in and out through the rest of my life.

“And then when I was sixteen, my boyfriend was murdered.

“I moved to London and then had to live with a family member but they were on drugs.

“[It] was just like a spiral of events that should have just completely knocked me off track.

“For a while I used to be embarrassed about talking about it – but then as I got older, I realised – me sharing this there’s going to be so many people who’ve gone through similar things.

“Once you see somebody having that conversation it’s like ‘Ah okay, it’s not that bad, I can do that too’.”

As part of the The #SoundOfSupport series Manchester City players İlkay Gündoğan and Phil Foden also spoke of their struggles.

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Foden, 20, also revealed his changing attitudes in becoming a father, saying: “Becoming a father, say you have a bad game or something and you come back and see your little one smiling, it makes you think there’s more to life and definitely brings the best out of me.

“To always see him smiling and things, it just makes me more happy.”

  • The renamed Heads Up FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea will be live from Wembley Stadium on BBC One at 5.30pm on Saturday.

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