"It boils down to my own mental health" - Ex-Premier League star on why he's stepping away from the game

"It boils down to my own mental health" - Ex-Premier League star on why he's stepping away from the game

Updated: 1 month, 22 days, 9 hours, 23 minutes, 6 seconds ago

"It boils down to my own mental health" - Ex-Premier League star on why he's stepping away from the game

Steven Reid tells us about walking away from a career in coaching after feeling he was "institutionalised" by football

Author: Mick Coyle

Published 5 minutes ago
Last updated 5 minutes ago

Before deciding to step away from football, a counsellor asked former Premier League footballer Steven Reid to name ten things he enjoyed in life. Despite more than 20 years as a professional sports star, he could only name two.

The former Blackburn, West Brom, Millwall and Republic of Ireland midfielder struggled with his mental health from an early age, and feels like he was "institutionalised" by the sport.

A move into coaching after his playing days proved successful to the outside world, seeing him take on roles with the Scotland National Team that reached the Euros, and with the Nottingham Forest squad that secured promotion to the Premier League.

But it came at a price.

Anxiety, imposter syndrome and long spells away from his family meant he felt the need to make the decision to re-evaluate his priorities, and step away from the game after 25 years.

Concerns about his mental health

Speaking to the Mental Health Monday Podcast at the inaugural It's Mental Live event at the University of Bolton stadium, the 41 year old told us why he came to his decision

"Ultimately it boils down to my own mental health, my own happiness, my own contentment, finding a little bit more about what I actually want to do.

"Having been in football from the age of 16, you end up on a journey into places you don't want to be, losing a bit of yourself along the way. In a way being institutionalised."

Steven speaks of seeing a counsellor at an early age, something he returns to when he feels it's needed.

His new venture will see him become a counsellor in his own right, so he can return the favour to fellow professionals, former colleagues, or new players coming into the game, using his new knowledge, and the knowledge that comes from 25 years in football.

"I wanted to do this is 2018, but I just stepped out, got a bit scared and got a phone call (to return to coaching) and stepped back in - almost as if the uncomfortable feeling of being back in football was more comfortable than the uncertainty of what might be next."

Returning to the game on his own terms

Steven decided at the start of last season he'd step away from the frontline, a season that saw his club Nottingham Forest return to the Premier League.

So was he tempted to stay in the game at that point?

"When that final whistle went at Wembley, I thought 'how do you walk away from this?' but a lightbulb moment a few days later, I just cut the cord and that was it"

Steven cites the amount of time spent away from his family, his parents and his brother to playing a key factor in his decision too.

His coaching career meant he was away from home six nights a week, and found his time at home was often spoiled by the stresses and strains of winning or losing games.

"While the kids are young enough, I want to be around them and be a better person and better dad around them, not a person whose moods and behaviours are dictated to by the football world and its results"

Steven Reid speaking to Senior News Editor Mick Coyle at It's Mental Live

Steven's already been asked to speak at football clubs, and hopes his new counselling operation will allow him to use his experience to support players in football and beyond.

Although he's stepping away from the game, he's not turning his back on it.

From now on its on his terms.

Listen to the full conversation on this week's Mental Health Monday Podcast, recorded at It's Mental Live at the University of Bolton Stadium

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