Soccer to help fight depression

2011-11-30 15:42

England’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is set to increase the circulation of a booklet offering guidance on coping with depression to 50 000 former players following Gary Speed’s death.

Although no evidence has yet been produced that former Wales manager Speed, found hanged in his home last weekend, was suffering from depression, the PFA have decided to re-issue the 36-page booklet.

The PFA initially sent the booklet out at the start of the season to their 4 000 members, in part as a response to the deaths of Rushden and Diamonds goalkeeper Dale Roberts and German international keeper Robert Enke.

In the booklet there are case studies on suffering depression written by former England internationals Paul Gascoigne and Andy Cole, as well as current Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

“There has been a tremendous outpouring of emotion this week, an indication that Gary was regarded as one of our finest,” PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said today.

“This booklet went out at the beginning of the season after the deaths of Robert Enke and Dale Roberts, and after what has happened with Gary we have decided to widen its circulation and let people know there is a support system out there for them to turn to.

“Mental problems have to be treated with understanding. Players can have panic attacks, fail to come terms with leaving football, finishing as a player, or the pressures of being a manager.“We want to do all we can to try to avoid another tragedy like this.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle said their official programme for the match against Chelsea on Saturday would carry a picture of Speed on the front cover, and contain a four-page tribute to the former Magpies midfielder.

Before kick-off, a singer will lead the 52 000-capacity crowd in a rendition of the Welsh hymn, Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer.

A club statement added: “While the hymn is sung, supporters in the East Stand will be asked to hold up black and white cards which will depict the number 11, the shirt number Gary wore while at United.

“All supporters will be provided with hymn sheets on their seats in order to join in the singing.“Upon completion of the hymn, a minute’s applause will be observed in memory of Gary.”

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