See what's happening on Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr

FIFPro-Worlds-players-union-mobile-logo

Professional footballers about to retire from their active career, should seek expert support to smoothen the transition into their new life and minimise the risk of mental health problems, according to former Irish footballer Paul McGee, who successfully fought depression.

“When you leave the game, you are fighting two worlds”, McGee explains. “One where everything is arranged and everybody looks after you, and another where you must do everything yourself and there are no team mates, no friends, no banter, no training, no scoring goals.”

“O My God, that’s hard to swallow. It hits you like a ton of bricks.”

McGee, a 48-year old former winger of Wimbledon, encountered serious problems after quitting his professional career. He came close to committing suicide because of depression, but managed to recover with professional help.

“My advice for players who are nearing the end of their career is to seek support from people who can help you prepare for what is going to happen. It is always good to talk to professional doctors. It is no use talking with your mates, it might be too hard for them to understand. When you have pain in your teeth, you go to a dentist. When you have mental problems, talk with a professional.”

“The help is there, doctors nowadays are brilliant. Don’t let this build up inside of you. Put a foot on it. That is my advice.”

Awareness

Paul McGee 2 250 300McGee wants to raise awareness to mental health problems, which according to FIFPro research occur even more in professional football than in general population. He assumes that many players are unaware of the impact a depression can have.

“Before I had it, I did not have any idea what a depression was. Maybe I already had it when was still playing the game.”

McGee welcomes FIFPro initiatives such as its mental health research, a players’ guidebook and an after career consultation project. These are designed to increase awareness on symptoms of common mental disorders and help players find proper support.

“We need people who will help players realise that it can happen to anyone at any time, whether they are 17 years or much older.”

It only takes one life-changing moment, a serious injury or retirement, McGee experienced. That’s why he tells his story to FIFPro.

“If I could teach one person how to turn the corner that would be great.”

 

Also read:     Football can't ignore mental health issues
  Paul McGee: the footballer who beat depression 

By clicking ‘Accept cookies’, you are agreeing to cookies being placed during a visit to this website. If you would like to more about cookies, click on the ‘More info’ button.