Jacob Steinberg on 22 May 2020
Frank Lampard has said attitudes around mental health in football were stuck in the stone age during his playing career and that footballers would benefit from opening up more about their emotions.
Chelsea’s manager admitted he lacked maturity when it came to understanding the importance of mental health in his younger days and argued that men need to be more comfortable about speaking up. Lampard told a BBC One documentary, Football, Prince William and our Mental Health, that more could be done to improve the situation and that players remained reluctant to talk to each other about their feelings.
“I would say not that much – we could definitely improve that stuff,” Lampard said. “But from my playing days we wouldn’t; we were stuck in the stone age in many ways. I was certainly at fault for it. Now I look back and go: ‘I wish there was a bit more maturity.’”
The documentary, due to air next Thursday, uses football to focus on men’s mental health. Lampard, who attends a Heads Up event at a pub to watch an England game with Prince William and a group of football fans, explained that the culture was to keep a stiff upper lip when he was younger.
“I grew up in a family where it was kind of seen that’s the way it is, that you don’t give away too much emotion,” he said. “You keep things to yourself, you maybe don’t engage too much together in an emotional kind of way. I think opening up, talking about other people’s experiences, is the only way to start approaching it. It’s an important thing and something that we are all much more aware of now, and there’s probably a lot more to do.”