DAVID Beckham opened up to Prince William about his own mental health struggles as he spoke about his “toughest year”.
The 38-year-old royal is hoping to broaden the discussion surrounding mental health within the football industry, and chatted with current and former players as part of his long-running Head’s Up campaign.
In the video call, which has been shared online, the Duke of Cambridge spoke to former England captain David, England Women’s captain Steph Houghton, Aston Villa player Tyrone Mings, Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend and Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Becks, 45, shared a snippet from the conversation to his social media page, where he reflected on getting sent off during a World Cup match against Argentina in 1998 -when he was just 23.
He said: “When I look back on it now, I didn’t realise how hard it was but I just remember the times where I faced adversity throughout my career, ‘98 was by far the toughest.
“Once you’re on the field, you have to mentally prepare for that, you have to really understand that yes, you have your teammates, but that doesn’t make you stop thinking ‘what are they saying about me in the crowds?’
“I think I went through that at a very young age. I made a mistake, you know, I made a mistake in ‘98 and the reaction at the time was pretty brutal.
“I was constantly criticised on the pitch verbally. But like I said at the start of this, times have changed. If social media was around when I was going through that time in ‘98, it would have been a whole different story.”
David went on to reveal that his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson supported him off the pitch – and that he wouldn’t have asked for help because it was a “different era”.
He explained: “I was lucky. I had a support system within Manchester United and the manager and obviously family, but did I feel at the time it was okay to ask someone and say: ‘I need help’? I would say no.
“It was a different era and I just felt I had to keep it all in and deal with it myself.”
David is now dad to 21-year-old Brooklyn, 17-year-old Romeo, 15-year-old Cruz, and nine-year-old Harper – and constantly “preaches” to his children about speaking about their feelings.
He said: “I’m the one who is preaching to my kids and also other kids that I talk to out there that it’s really important to talk, it’s really important to say if you’re not okay.
“We all know now it’s okay not to be okay and it’s okay to say that, it’s okay to come out and say ‘I need help’.”
Posting a clip from the discussion to Instagram, David added in the caption: “Over the years I’ve learned that to play at your best, mental well-being is just as important as physical fitness.
“As a new club owner I want our players and staff to feel able to ask for help when they need it. Thankfully times are changing and we need everyone in football to know that it’s ok to be open when they feel pressure and need support.
“Thank you to the Duke of Cambridge for inviting me to join this important conversation ahead of the Heads Up FA Cup final this weekend. @kensingtonroyal #HeadsUp”.