Jurgen Klopp has opened up on mental health alongside Liverpool star Andy Robertson, with a host of top players also involved as part of a new series of films from the Heads Up campaign.
The Liverpool boss was in conversation with left-back Robertson and they touched on topics such as struggles throughout lockdown and mental health problems when turning professional.
The Reds pair also discussed the impact of losing relatives early in their careers.
Premier League stars such as Jesse Lingard, Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden also took part in the six-part #SoundOfSupport series involving candid conversations as part of the campaign spearheaded by Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, which aims to use the power and influence of football to change the conversation on mental health.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp spoke about the issue of mental health as part of Heads Up
The Heads Up campaign has been spearheaded by Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge
It comes ahead of the ‘Heads Up FA Cup Final’ between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley this Saturday, which is dedicated to the issue of mental health, which is expected to be an ongoing issue arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
‘There were moments in the lockdown when we thought it is a proper setback from all of our dreams,’ Klopp admitted in the film, in reference to Liverpool’s title aspirations.
‘So it was a setback but it was a setback for all of us together, and we could calm each other down.
‘[It] helps if you don’t feel all the burden on your own shoulders. If you have a group of friends or a group of colleagues and you can create an atmosphere like this, that helps… I think there is no problem big enough or small enough that you cannot talk about it.’
Robertson, 26, who Klopp signed in 2017 from Hull City, has progressed into one of Europe’s leading left backs – but divulged that he found it difficult to open up as soon as he turned pro.
Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson spoke about the issues he had when he turned pro
‘When I started making it professional, I think that’s when I struggled the most… I think only since probably since the last year or two, since we’ve had kids and that then I’ve started to open up more,’ said Robertson.
‘I used to be one that blocked everything up, I thought my problems are my problems… I think mentally it has been a lot easier because I have opened up a lot better and [that’s] something I wish I had done earlier.’
Robertson revealed how his aunt always believed in him and told him not to give up following his release by Celtic, but she passed away in 2013, long before he became a European and Premier League champion.
Robertson said: ‘I was a normal 15-year-old lad so there were probably a few tears but my mum and dad got me my favourite curry that night [when Celtic let him go],’ he said.
‘My auntie came up to the house and she told mum “I’m telling you, he’ll make it as a footballer” and that’s something that’s always stayed with me.
‘When I was at Dundee United, on Christmas Day, sadly she passed away. She was one that always believed I was something special even when probably nobody believed it when I was younger.
‘But that is something that does bug me a little bit, that she’s not seen me lifting the Champions League, lifting the Premier League and things like that.’
Klopp tells a similar story, about his late father.
‘My dad never saw me as a manager. He died four months before I became a manager,’ Klopp explains.
‘He pushed me through my (playing) career pretty much, with really harsh criticism and stuff like this, but now my real career, he never saw. That’s hard from time to time.’
Manchester United midfielder Lingard also took part in the conversation on mental health, speaking with TV and radio presenter Maya Jama about problems in his personal life last season.
‘Last season, I was going through some things off the field with my family so it was difficult for me to perform on the field,’ said the 27-year-old.
Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard admitted he found last season difficult
‘I’m very family orientated and my mum was going through some things last year with depression… so in the meantime, I had to look after my little brother and sister who’s 12 and 15. I was still performing at the same time.
‘You just get to that point where you’re like, I’ve got to actually say something. I spoke to my family and stuff like that. It felt so much better.’
Jama also told of her experiences growing up and how talking to people has helped in recent years, saying: ‘I was three years old when my dad went to prison and then he was in and out through the rest of my life.
‘And then when I was sixteen, my boyfriend was murdered. I moved to London and then had to live with a family member but they were on drugs. [It] was just like a spiral of events that should have just completely knocked me off track. For a while I used to be embarrassed about talking about it…
TV presenter Maya Jama spoke about her childhood and speaking to people as she got older
‘But then as I got older, I realised – me sharing this there’s going to be so many people who’ve gone through similar things… Once you see somebody having that conversation it’s like “Ah ok, it’s not that bad, I can do that too.”‘
Manchester City duo Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden also had an open and honest conversation, with the German talking about feeling isolated in a new and foreign country.
‘For me growing up, the most important thing was always family. They were kind of like the psychologists for myself… [Now] I am in a different country, I don’t know many people apart from the people from the club,’ admitted the 29-year-old.
‘I have one friend over here who I saw during lockdown. The fact that I have spent a lot of time on my own and without family and friends during lockdown just showed me how important it is to have your loved ones close to you.’
Man City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan was in conversation with Phil Foden about moving abroad
Foden himself revealed how becoming a parent has changed his outlook away from football
Foden, meanwhile, talks about how becoming a parent has changed his outlook away from football: ‘Becoming a father, say you have a bad game or something and you come back and see your little one smiling, it makes you think there’s more to life and definitely brings the best out of me.
‘To always see him smiling and things, it just makes me more happy.’
Launched in 2019, the Heads Up campaign aims to harness the power and influence of football to change the conversation on mental health, with a particular focus on men.
Heads Up is working with charity partners Mind, CALM, Heads Together and Sporting Chance to make sure everyone can find the support they need, and help others do the same. Visit http://www.headstogether.org.uk/heads-up to find out more.
For 24/7 support, you can text ‘HeadsUp’ to 85258 to connect with a trained crisis volunteer who will chat to you by text message. This service is run by ‘Shout’, powered by Crisis Text Line, and is a legacy of the Heads Together campaign.