Inside Matters: Ferdinand - Ask for help if you need it

1 Jun 2020

Former Premier League striker shares how learning to open up and speak about your feelings can benefit your mental wellbeing

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When it comes to a rollercoaster of emotions the 1995/96 season had them all for Newcastle United striker Les Ferdinand, who says his experience of missing out on the Premier League title has taught him to open up about his problems. 

Newcastle infamously surrendered a 12-point lead to Manchester United in that campaign and Ferdinand says the pain of passing up the chance to be champions was tough to take, especially because he didn't know if he should talk to anyone. 

"Dealing with that - and perhaps not dealing with it - mentally and emotionally, it was a really tough time," said Ferdinand in the ninth part of "Inside Matters", a series of exclusive interviews with football stars about the mental challenges they have faced.

"You think you're about to win something, you're about to do something and everything seems to collapse.

"It takes a lot of mental strength and some of us struggled with it. When I look back on it now perhaps in that period of time in my career, and in life in general, people never spoke about mental health issues. But I’m sure quite a few of us went through that period where we weren’t quite sure what to do and how to deal with it."

"You go into places in your mind that you struggle with. I struggled for a long time and unfortunately it just made matters worse."

Les Ferdinand, Inside Matters

Twenty-four years on, Ferdinand realises now that talking to people can help.

"You go into places in your mind that you struggle with," says Ferdinand, now director of football at Queens Park Rangers. "I struggled with it for a long time and unfortunately it just made matters worse.

"I have taken it home in the past but I’ve learnt now. We’ve got some fantastic people around now so that when things get too much you can go and speak to them, and I do that a lot.

"We have psychologists at the club, I speak to my club doctor, I speak to friends of mine who are ex-professional footballers and explain some of the situations and get their view point as well."

Also in this series 

See: Inside Matters: Stars discuss mental health challenges

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