In addition to delighting us every week with his facial expressions, his punchlines and his relevant analyses, the consultant Thierry Henry never fails to address themes that have long remained taboo in the world of football. The latest: the mental health of the players. In an interview given on the subject to The Team this Monday, he was particularly worried about the case of Neymar, who had confided in the psychological fatigue that a football career engenders, suggesting that he could leave the selection after the World Cup in Qatar. After mentioning this for the first time on the show Sunday Night Footballon February 27 on Amazon Prime, the former Gunner clarified his thoughts with our colleagues.
“Yes, he is a little worse … But there are reasons, he said. Neymar has often spoken in his last interviews about his well-being, about the pressure… So my first thought was: “Is he good? » It wasn’t: he doesn’t make little bridges, sombreros anymore, he doesn’t accelerate anymore… He speaks but can we hear him? He asks for “help”, there are things going on in his head, like any human being”.
When Henry hid to cry
If the subject is still taboo in the world of football, it is nothing compared to what was happening at the time. The 1998 world champion thus confides that he had to hide to cry when, at one point in his career, he was going through a complicated phase on the psychological level. “I don’t know how people would react if a football player spoke like that at the end of a match, explaining that he was not mentally well. In my time, it was much harder, totally taboo. Even in the group. You arrived in the locker room: ”How are you?” – Yes”, even if things weren’t going well. ”Did you sleep well ? – Yes” even if it was not the case.” Are you in pain? – No”, even if you were in pain. Today, a player can open up more. »
As former professional footballer Vincent Gouttebarge, now head of the Fifpro medical department, explained to us in an article on depression in top athletes, things are slowly changing but “the subject is still too taboo”. “We understand physical injuries but, paradoxically, an issue as medical as that of mental health is not accepted in the same way by the general public. »
“We are in 2022, we have to open up. If a player has a mental or other problem, let him say so, launch Tweety. That people don’t have a bad reaction is completely normal. Sometimes you feel pressure from your parents, your agent, the guys in your city, the media, the supporters, the coach…. Your own pressure. When it all adds up, it’s very hard. It should no longer be taboo. Speak! ”I’m not afraid”, ”I’m not in pain”, it’s not true, it doesn’t exist. »