The 72

In a multi-million pound footballing world that is full of normal men, many from working class backgrounds, as seriously big players, you would think that bullying, racism and depression would be dead and buried within the game, but this former England youth player lifts the lid on just how prevalent these worrying traits still are.

In a truly marvellous piece by Sam Cunningham of inews, former Charlton Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and England U21 striker Marvin Sordell speaks of his own personal struggles within a game that claims to look after its main assets, the players.

Sordell bags a hat-trick.

This article is a tough read, but one that should be lorded for it’s honesty and bravery in revealing what some players are subjected to, even in this day and age and how different players react and respond differently to different coaching styles.

Here are a couple of snippets from the interview, with much more to see within a very important piece for today’s footballer…

After retiring from the game at only twenty eight, he was asked if he regrets his decision… he really doesn’t…

“I’ve seen a lot of things that have happened in football since the start of the season, the racism, the bullying, etc, which prove my point. I see that and I think anybody asking why: that’s why. You can see it. I don’t even have to keep repeating myself because it’s there and it’s obvious to see.”

In a very important time that see’s mental health taking a front seat in many cases, Sordell touches on how the game is trying to change for better in recent times… but still doesn’t quite do enough…

“The emotional intelligence of football players now I think is higher than previously,” Sordell says. “Maybe players are more willing to show their emotional side. They’re more engaged in politics and society and so many different types of issues.

“One of the issues is that the generation that runs football – the people who are the heads of governing bodies, or coaches, or managers – they’re all from the era when mental health was a [taboo]subject. The mentality around it was ‘man up’. So if the people who are making decisions have that mentality, then it doesn’t matter who’s playing because they’re going to be judged by those standards.

He adds: “When these people were players, that was what they were told. They only know to tell the next generation the same thing, but this generation is pretty much saying, ‘No, that’s not right.’

“I think a lot of football is changing. A lot of staff are becoming more understanding. It’s not something they had to deal with. So for them, it’s probably quite difficult to see a new thing, in essence, come about, because everybody knows about physical injuries, whether you’ve broken a leg or dislocated something. But mental injuries, people struggling with mental health, isn’t something that is associated with football players. I think we’re definitely making progress. It’s just, how can we accelerate it?”


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In my opinion, more needs to be done to change the old fashioned mind-set of the football masses, with this type of interview being a huge help in that regard, but it should not take a young mans suicide attempt and early retirement from a game which I’m sure he loved, to have people stand up and take notice.

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Husband to a Geordie Wife, Father to a Yorkshire lass, all round number nine, loves Leeds, Rock music and playing Golf... badly! I also do a bit of writing in my spare time.