Stoke striker Bojan Krcic has bravely opened up about his battle with anxiety attacks throughout his career.
The 27-year-old started out his career in Barcelona, scoring over 900 goals for their youth teams before become the youngest player to make his league debut.
I think it’s worth making a point that may not be clearly reflected in the headline: Bojan is not talking about now, but as a teenager.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) May 18, 2018
The Spaniard is one of a select group of players who has scored in La Liga, Serie A, Eredivisie, the Premier League and the Bundesliga. However, it's not something that the Spanish striker feels he can revel in, as he has struggled throughout his career with anxiety attacks throughout his career.
Heavily tipped as the 'next Lionel Messi' as he grew up, the striker admitted that he struggled to deal with the pressure that followed - having failed to live up to his potential.
"When I came up, it was ‘new Messi’," he said. "Well, yes, if you compare me with Messi...but what career did you expect? And there are lots of things that people didn’t know. I didn’t go to the  European Championship because of anxiety issues but we said I was going on holiday. I was called up for Spain against France, my international debut, and it was said that I had gastroenteritis when I had an anxiety attack. But no one wants to talk about that. Football’s not interested.”
As often, hard to find right treatment w/ so little space & there’s inevitably stuff that needs more. (incl fascinating analysis of Stoke)— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) May 18, 2018
Opening up about his battles with anxiety, explaining how it made him feel and the impact it has had on him, both as a man and as a footballer.
“Anxiety affects everyone differently. I spoke to someone who felt like their heart was beating 1,000 times a minute. With me, it was a dizziness, feeling sick, constant, 24 hours a day,” Bojan said. “There was a pressure here [in his head], powerful, never going away. I was fine when I went into the dressing room for the France game but I started to feel this powerful dizziness, overwhelmed, panicked, and they lay me on the physio’s bench. That was the first time but I had nasty episodes like that again."
And one of the nicest things has been seeing many Stoke fans’ fondness for a really good player they clearly admire.— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) May 18, 2018
He also revealed the truth behind his refusal of a call-up for Euro 2008, explaining that Luis Aragonés and Fernando Hierro had been supporting him from afar in the build-up to the tournament.
"I was in the car, going to training," he said. "I said: ‘It hurts to say this but I can’t.’ I got to the Camp Nou and Carles Puyol was there. He said: ‘Bojan, I’ll be by your side all the way, I’ll be there for you.’ I said: ‘Puyi, I can’t.’ I’m on medication, I’m on the edge. And the next day I saw a headline: ‘Spain call up Bojan and Bojan says no.’ That headline kills me, it’s as if I don’t care."
“You still have the scar. It doesn’t open but you can feel it pull at times, a reminder. I was young, you overcome things quickly, but in media terms, the way people see you, that did me some damage.”