(Reuters) - Former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne, who has spent several spells in rehab battling alcohol and drug addiction, has called for more help for players dealing with stress-related issues.
Gascoigne said soccer’s “macho” culture often deterred players who are constantly in the public limelight from seeking help.
His appeal comes after Everton winger Aaron Lennon was detained under Britain’s Mental Health Act last week because of concerns for his welfare.
“There needs to be more done – especially with the guys. It’s a macho thing. They think, ‘Nah, I‘m not doing this because no one will like us’,” Gascoigne told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Gascoigne said he himself was going through his “worst year ever” following the death of his cousin but that he was now looking forward to a “happy and sober future”.
“Sometimes I‘m in a good mood and then all of a sudden I wake up and I’ve got a bottle of gin and I think ‘where’s that come from?'.”
“You look at the Everton player (Lennon), who’s just been sectioned ... There’s a lot of people who have got everything, but inside they don’t share enough,” Gascoigne said.
Last week, the Professional Footballers’ Association said 178 current and former players had started using a dedicated service to provide help on mental health so far this year, more than in the whole of last year.
“Sometimes their ego’s getting battered,” he added. “With me, sometimes I needed my ego to be battered and squashed. That’s the only way of going forward - by talking about it.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Lough