Espanyol midfielder Sergi Darder candidly opens up about his mental health struggles

Espanyol midfielder Sergi Darder has opened up about his struggles with mental health and depression in an interview with ESPN’s Sid Lowe with comments carried by Marca.

“In 2020 I realised and accepted that I wasn’t well,” Darder said. “I’m not going to use the word depression because there are people who are having a hard time, they’re sick, but I needed help. I wanted to be a footballer, have a house, a car, a family, children. I had everything and I wasn’t happy. I had to change.

“I cannot be in a situation where I have everything I ever dreamed of, I’m the luckiest man in the world, and I’m not happy. My friends work eight hours a day breaking stone, they have no money and they’re happier than me. What’s wrong with me? For a year, my mom, my wife, my agent, they told me: ‘you’re not well, don’t lock yourself in your room, go out and get help’.

“It was difficult to accept, but when I did I realised that I had no motivation to do anything. I didn’t want to play or train. Everyone was better than me and I felt that I was worthless, nothing. I was 26 and I said: ‘I have ten years of football left, I want to enjoy them, make the most of them, not suffer through them’.

“Now I can say that I’m enjoying football again, something I wasn’t doing two years ago. The first thing I did was go to a psychologist to put my life in order outside of football, have a good relationship with my partner and my children.

“I was always angry and that hurt them a lot. I wanted to recover the joy of living. I had a bad training session and didn’t want to talk to anyone. They said something to me and I yelled at them. It was wrong; the football was dominating me too much. It devoured me, overwhelmed me. So I looked for help.”

Born in Arta in the Balearic Islands, Darder spent time with their youth system before switching to Manacor and then Espanyol. He broke through with Espanyol B in 2011 but failed to make the step up to the first team, instead switching to Malaga B and eventually breaking through there.

He spent two seasons in the Andalusian outfit’s first team before moving to France to join Lyon, spending three years contracted to the Ligue 1 club, the last of which on loan at Espanyol.

He joined the Catalan club on a permanent deal at the end of that spell, and has since made 189 appearances for them, providing 16 goals and 15 assists.

Espanyol are currently 13th in La Liga and welcome city rivals Barcelona to their corner of the city on Sunday evening. The Blaugrana are keen to build upon last weekend’s defeat of Atletico Madrid and consolidate their grip on fourth place in the table.

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