Paul Pogba, France’s lynchpin midfielder, and Manchester United’s beleaguered one, has come out in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro and spoken about how depression has affected him throughout his career.
This came as Pogba was asked by the interviewer whether mental health was a taboo subject in the world of football.
Pogba said (translated from French): “Football is the most individual team sport, we are judged every three days, we have to be good all the time, when we have problems like everyone else, whether with our partners, our coach, in the everyday life.”
“Inevitably, you will feel it in your body, in your head, and you may have a month, even a year, where you are not well. But you don’t have to say it. In any case publicly. It’s all in the head, the mind controls everything and all top athletes go through these moments, but few talk about it.”
Pogba was then asked if he had “known” depression. He said: “Completely, and several times in my career. I knew it, but we don’t talk about it.”
“Sometimes you don’t know you’re depressed, you just want to isolate yourself, be alone, these are unmistakable signs.”
Pogba said it started under his old Manchester United manager José Mourinho in the 2016-2017 season. Pogba said: “You ask yourself questions, you wonder if you are at fault, because you have never experienced these moments in your life.”
“If you’re not mentally armored, you’re dead in this sport. These trials forge you, but you must not give up.”
On social media sports fan pages like Bleacher Report, fans applauded Pogba for being honest.
“Big for him to speak on that topic I respect it,” one wrote.
“People talk about these players being rich as if wealth cures mental illnesses,” chimed in another. “I can’t imagine the amount of abuse a professional athlete deals with. The pressure from millions of people has to take a toll.”
Others lamented Manchester United’s performance as a club. One wrote: “Paul United fans have been depressed since 2011.” Another said: “Man United players and fans understand.”
Pogba was also asked by Le Figaro about how some fans seem to think getting paid heaps means you forfeit the right to be sad.
“Of course, we earn a lot of money and we don’t complain, really, but that doesn’t prevent us from going through moments, like everyone else in life, that are more difficult than others,” Pogba said.
“Because you make money, you always have to be happy? It’s not like that, life. But, in football, it does not pass, we are however not superheroes, but only human beings.”
Pogba shared that when he’s feeling down he refocusses on his family and friends. He told Le Figaro: “I don’t want negative moments to make me forget everything I’ve learned, but it’s not necessarily easy and, when I can’t manage it on my own, I talk a lot with [Patrice Evra], old players who have experienced this, because they will understand you immediately.”
“My shrink can be my best friend, my wife or my son. Talking, being listened to, bringing out all that rage and depression that’s eating away at you, it’s mandatory for me.”
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