Manchester United legend Gary Neville has opened up about how he used a psychologist to help him overcome the most testing time of his stellar professional career.
Neville was always regarded as something of a model pro during his playing days, but he has revealed that in 1999 his form began to nosedive as a result of a seven-year relationship coming to an end.
Former England international Neville described how he began to lose all faith in his own ability and also that at the time his use of a mental health professional would have seen him perceived as being ‘weak’.
“I had one massive dip,” Neville told the Blank podcast.
“I had a break up in a relationship after seven years and I gave two goals away [vs Vasco de Gama] in Brazil in the World [Club] Championships and we got knocked out.
“It was just before the European Championships in 2000 under [England manager] Kevin Keegan. People probably won’t remember it. I just went under, I was going onto the pitch distracted, thinking of other things.
“Didn’t want the ball, lacked confidence, my belief went, didn’t know where my next good game was going to come from. I didn’t know where my next good pass was going to come from.
“I just really lost everything in a six month period and I needed the summer break after the Euros.
“I remember just having that four-week block of doing nothing and just clearing my head and resetting. And then saying right I’m going to work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, and that was it.
“First day of pre-season I started doing triple sessions, I started having extra massages, extra stretching, extra weights. First game of the season got through it without making a mistake and went on from there.”
“At the time, coming out to [my team-mates] and telling them I was seeing a psychologist would have been seen as a weakness. It would have been seen as a weakness in life, not just football.”