Brighton & Hove Albion winger Anthony Knockaert spoke openly about his battle with depression on Thursday afternoon, and has urged those affected not to be afraid to step forward.
The Frenchman gave an unprompted insight into his struggle with depression over the past two years, but says he is now in a much happier place and focused on positive times ahead.
In a frank interview, he said, “I went through depression last season, which people obviously didn’t know about. It was really tough and mentally impossible for me to go and perform on the pitch.
“I went through a divorce last year during the pre-season, so it was really tough to take, especially after my dad [passing away].
“I wasn’t able to do what I should have been doing on the pitch. The club helped me and now I’m ready to talk about it. I’m happy again and everything is going well in my life.
“It’s important in my eyes to leave this message, to help other people who are going through something like this.
“It’s not something to be ashamed of, you have to talk to someone because you never know what can happen in your life.
“One day you can be successful and another day you can become no one. Life can turn like this.
“That’s what happened to me and I just didn’t see it coming. It was important for me to give this message – you shouldn’t be ashamed to go and speak to someone.”
Knockaert also highlighted the help and guidance he received from counselling sessions and the support from those closest to him, as he worked his way through difficult times to reach a healthier state of mind.
“I said to Bruno last December that I couldn’t keep going like this and he went to see the gaffer. He [Chris Hughton] then sorted me out.
“The manager came to speak to me and said ‘we’re not giving you the choice, we’re getting you a counsellor’.
“Since that happened, I’ve got better and better. There was a combination between her and the club and that has helped me a lot.
“Depression is a really bad thing. A few years ago when people talked to me about depression, I was like ‘what is this?’ You don’t really take it seriously until it happens to you.
“But then you realise what it’s like because you’re going through the worst period in your life.
“So I just want to leave a message to footballers and people in general, that as soon as they go through this, it’s really important to talk to someone and not be scared.”