England and Aston Villa footballer Tyrone Mings has revealed he worked with a psychologist after being dubbed the “weakest link” in England’s team at Euro 2020.
Speaking to The Sun, Mings explained how in the run-up to England’s opening game of Euro 2020, against Croatia, he worked on coping mechanisms with a psychologist to stop outside influences affecting his performance.
“I did have a tough time in the lead-up to the opening game against Croatia,” said Mings. “I think I’m a lot more hardened to outside influences now, but my mental health did plummet.
“I have no shame in admitting that because there was so many unknowns about me going to that game.
“I was probably the only name on the teamsheet that people thought, ‘Not sure about him’. And that was something I had to overcome.
“When 90-95% of your country are having doubts over you, it’s very difficult to stop this intruding on your own thoughts.
“So I did a lot of work on that with my psychologist. I was given a lot of coping mechanisms — whether it was breathing, meditation, or just learning how to bring yourself into the present moment. To stop letting your subconscious take over.
“It was hard. I didn’t really sleep very well before that first game.”
One man who did have doubts about Mings going into the first game of the tournament was former England footballer and BBC pundit, Rio Ferdinand.
Ferdinand told viewers before England played Croatia that in his opinion, centre back – where Mings plays – was “the weakest part of our team, and an area where most people are concerned.
“He [Mings] has not played Champions League football, he has not played at this level,” Ferdinand added.
However, Mings said Ferdinand has since contacted him privately and praised him for his performances on the pitch and for standing up to Home Secretary Priti Patel’s over her ‘dog whistle’ politics in relation to England players taking a knee before games.
“Rio DM’d me after the tournament,”said Mings. “He’d said I was the weak link, and that Croatia should be targeting me.
“He messaged me saying something like, ‘Top-class response – matched your performances on the pitch’.”
A year ago, Mings was part of a BBC documentary – alongside Prince William, as part of the royal’s Head’s Up campaign — that aimed to raise awareness around mental health.
Since then we’ve seen athletes like Simone Biles, Ben Stokes and Adam Peaty all discussing their own mental health challenges, and Mings believes that athletes’ openness and willingness to discuss the subject is a great thing.
“It’s just great that we are playing in a time now when you can speak about mental health, and how you are feeling,” Mings said.
“We have seen with Simone Biles you can speak on how you are feeling and hopefully feel supported by many people.”