Former Premier League footballer experienced mental health issues at start of his Millwall career

Steven Reid has revealed that he experienced mental health issues even at the start of his playing career at Millwall.

The 41-year-old came through the youth ranks at the South London club and made more than 150 first-team appearances before a Premier League switch to Blackburn in 2003 for £1.85million.

Reid had been assistant manager at Nottingham Forest but left that role as he wants to become a counsellor, hoping to obtain his qualifications in the next three years.

But while his big-money move to Rovers helped heighten pressure, the former midfielder told BBC Radio Lancashire: “No, it wasn’t the start [of his problems]. I had issues with mental health challenges – anxiety and stress – when I was a kid at secondary school. I was always a bit of a worrier – even on my debut for Millwall and the Republic of Ireland.

“During my career, as bad as it sounds, I couldn’t wait for it to be over – even as a young player, wanting to get to the end straight away. Over the last couple of years or so I’ve patted myself on the back a lot more. I’ve always found that difficult to do, and take praise.

“You end up in some really dark places with your own mental health. I did have some great support. I felt alone with my thoughts and feelings I was going through ‘it’s the Premier League, everyone [else] must be buzzing, why am I struggling?’ I had great support, family-wise and the medical departments at the club. Without that I’d probably have struggled to carry on through a lot of it.”

Reid initially explored switching to counselling after leaving his role as Crystal Palace first-team coach in August 2018, less than a year after accepting the position.

He returned to football in April 2019 to assist West Bromwich Albion caretaker boss Jimmy Shan.

“When I made the first jump when I left Crystal Palace, it was all a little bit vague,” said Reid. “A few rumours were flying about which happens when there’s no real definitive statement or answer, people jump to conclusions.

“But it was effectively this I’m doing now, but without a plan and committing to it.”

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