Tyrone Mings has revealed he struggled with mental health problems at Euro 2020 which left him feeling like 95 per cent of the country were doubting him.
The Aston Villa defender deputised for Harry Maguire in the opening games of the tournament – and while his performances drew praise, Mings admitted it had affected his mental health.
Mings played the full 90 minutes against Croatia and Scotland in England’s first two games of Euro 2020.
The centre-half was a controversial choice to replace Harry Maguire, who was recovering from an ankle injury.
Mings played extremely well, particularly in the opener against Croatia when he was arguably England’s best defender.
Maguire’s recovery from injury saw him replace Mings for the rest of the tournament.
What Mings said about mental health
Mings, quoted in the Sun, said: “I did have a tough time in the lead-up to the opening game against Croatia.
“I think I’m a lot more hardened to outside influences now, but my mental health did plummet. And I have no shame in admitting that because there was so many unknowns about me going to that game.
“I was probably the only name on the teamsheet that people thought, ‘Not sure about him’. And that was something I had to overcome. When 90-95 per cent of your country are having doubts over you, it’s very difficult to stop this intruding on your own thoughts.
“So I did a lot of work on that with my psychologist. It was hard. I didn’t really sleep very well before that first game.”
The issue of mental health around elite level sportsmen and women is in the limelight.
American gymnastics star Simone Biles has made headlines at the Olympics by pulling out of several events due to a mental health issue, while England all-rounder Ben Stokes is taking an indefinite break from cricket to safeguard his wellbeing.
Mings, 28, said: “It’s just great that we are playing in a time now when you can speak about mental health, and how you are feeling.
“We have seen with Simone Biles you can speak on how you are feeling and hopefully feel supported by many people.”
Mings' response to Patel
Mings also gained praise for his response to home secretary Priti Patel’s dismissal of England taking the knee as “gesture politics”.
On the issue with Patel, the home secretary tweeted her “disgust” at online abuse of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after their penalty shoot-out misses in the final.
Mings wrote: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”
A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com