Ryan Giggs opens up about mental health and preparing for life after United

He was writing in his column for English newspaper, The Telegraph

BY Cian Roche 19:10 Saturday 6 May 2017, 19:10 6 May 2017

Image: Dave Thompson/PA Archive/PA Images

Aaron Lennon was detained by this week by police in England under the Mental Health Act following an incident on Sunday afternoon.

The Everton winger is receiving treatment for a stress-related illness, the Premier League club said in a statement, and the news has prompted figures around football to shine a light on mental well-being.

Writing in his column for The Telegraph, former Manchester United player and assistant coach Ryan Giggs revealed he saw a psychiatrist to help him prepare for life after football.

He also admitted that playing at the highest level was rarely enjoyable.

"I made the decision to see a psychiatrist to learn how best to cope and some of the suggestions he made served me well in adapting to a new life outside of United," he wrote.

"He suggested that I keep busy in the immediate aftermath, and I did that going to the European Championship in France last summer as a pundit and then to India for a futsal tournament I had been invited to play in.

"There were little things too. I joined a gym for the first time in my life, and his simple suggestion that I join one half an hour from my home forced me to make a routine.

"As for the life of a footballer itself, I can say that it does come with stress of its own. I have to admit that I never really enjoyed the games.

"There was too much at stake playing for United. Unless you were 3-0 up with 10 minutes to go you learned that football had a habit of tripping you up. It was never wise to look around and relax and to enjoy the moment."

Ryan Giggs (right) alongside Louis van Gaal during his time as Manchester United assistant manager. Image:  Martin Rickett/PA Archive/PA Images

He explained the routine elite footballers must follow led him to become "institutionalised". 

"I had been there from the age of 14 to 42, and my life had been so distinctively shaped by the rhythm of life at Old Trafford that I realised, when it was coming to the end last year, I had to make some preparations for the change."

The former Welsh international - who has won most major honours available to him with Manchester United - said it was the simple things he now found fulfilling. 

"I was looking forward to watching my son play football at the weekend for the first time, and being able to do that has been fantastic. Spending time with my children these past 10 months has been a great pleasure, but they have their own school lives and the hours between drop-off and pick-up have to be filled too."

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