Former Premier League striker Marvin Sordell has opened up about his depression and claimed the world of football needs to be better equipped to help footballers.
The 27-year-old, who appeared in the top flight for Burnley and is now at Burton Albion via Bolton, Coventry and Colchester, says football clubs should employ full-time counsellors.
The former England Under-21 man admitted trying to take his own life in 2013 and claimed he felt “dead inside”. He has now bravely opened up about his demons and believes the footballing community should do more to tackle its biggest taboo.
When asked by the BBC2’s Victoria Derbyshire programme if he thought clubs knew he was struggling with depression during his career, he said: “I don’t know, to be honest.
“I didn’t accept [depression] until I spoke to a doctor. One of hardest things is being able to differentiate between a player being down because they’re not playing, as opposed to someone actually suffering from depression.
He added: “As a player, you’re told what to do, what to drink, what to eat, your conditioning. But when it comes to serious issues like mental health players are expected to go and speak to someone.
“It’s something the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the Football Association (FA) need to address and even if it’s not someone directly employed by the club, it could be the PFA or FA, they need to be around staff and players on a daily basis.
“They are professionals and know the difference between someone having a down day and someone who is suffering from mental health issues. It could be groundbreaking.”
The PFA has told BBC Sport that more footballers are using its welfare services but PFA head of welfare Michael Bennett said: “We still have to make our members aware of what support is in place.”
Sordell, who represented the Great Britain football team at the 2012 Olympics, has taken to writing to help his mental health, including a a poem called Denis Prose – an anagram of depression and admits he has been overwhelmed by the positive response from fans since opening up about his depression to the Guardian.