Ryan Giggs admits he "never really enjoyed" playing professional football
The detention of Everton winger Aaron Lennon under the Mental Health Act has sparked a discussion on the mental wellbeing of footballers.
On Saturday, Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs revealed in his Telegraph column that certain elements of the footballer lifestyle impacted poorly on his own mental health.
"I have to admit that I never really enjoyed the games. There was too much at stake playing for United. Unless you were 3-0 up with 10 minutes to go you learned that football had a habit of tripping you up. It was never wise to look around and relax and to enjoy the moment."
Speaking on whether playing football could have had a similar effect on Aaron Lennon, Giggs wrote:
"I do not know what has affected Aaron, but I always struggled in the periods I was out the team or playing badly I had a feeling of worthlessness. As a footballer you wonder if your team-mates are looking at you and asking the questions you are asking of yourself. Why can’t he hit a decent pass? Why’s he always injured? What’s wrong with him?"
Giggs also referred to himself as "one of the lucky ones", revealing that he found the end of his playing career to be a relief. Nevertheless, the 43-year-old revealed that he saw a psychiatrist in order to learn how to cope with his playing days coming to an end.
The Welshman, who won 13 Premier League medals at United, also pointed out that "Aaron Lennon's story has made mental health of footballers an issue again and I think that for his sake and everyone else in the game it is important to be open about how we feel as professionals, and how we cope with stress."