Bernd Leno on the importance of discussing mental health troubles
Across this weekend and last, football matches in England and Scotland have been dedicated to the Heads Up campaign, a charity that aims to harness the influence and popularity of football to normalise the conversation around mental health.
As part of the 'Heads up Weekends,' clubs at all levels of the game have featured Heads Up branding on their kits, in their stadiums and in their match-day programmes.
And for Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno this has proven to be a big step in the right direction as more and more stories about footballers suffering with mental health troubles begin to make their way into the public domain.
Ahead of the Gunners' clash with Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Leno opened up on the importance of why it is, indeed, important to talk all about mental health.
Leno told Sky Sports News: "I think it is very good to talk about this and also to show that we all need to take care of our mental health, because you can see that more and more people need this.
"It is very sad that nobody can show this or talk about this because everyone just normally shows the happy things and good things - but nobody talks or shows the bad things.
"We [footballers] are also human. Of course we get paid more than other people, but football is also a very, very hard business.
"I think other people don't know that we are under big mental pressure and other people don't see this. It can also affect our lives, because when we play bad everyone is attacking us, everybody is talking bad things about us, so you have to be strong, especially as a goalkeeper you need to be strong."
One of the biggest criticisms of modern-day football can be social media, which can often act as an opportunity for supporters to abuse players, should they have delivered a poor performance or their respective team may be going through a difficult period on the pitch.
"I am not a big fan of social media," continued Leno. "Of course I am on it, because this is the football world at the moment, but I don't like to read many things.
"Also, when I have had a good game I don't read all the comments because it is not serious. For me, the most important thing is my feeling; I know when I have had a good game and I know when I have had a bad game."
Back in November 2009, former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke decided to take his own life after suffering from depression for six years.
It was a tragedy that sent shock waves right around the football world and was a moment that affected Leno, who was just 17-years-old at the time.
"Yes, of course," added Leno when asked if Enke's death had an impact on him. "I have spoken to many, many people. I have spoken to the goalkeeping coach of the national team.
"He used to be the goalkeeping coach 10 years ago when Robert Enke was in the squad and he said to us 'he was a normal guy, he was a funny guy. He was a very intelligent person.'
"But like I have said, you couldn't see what was in his mind.
"He had a difficult time, especially with his family. He lost his daughter, which was very sad."
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