Brighton winger Anthony Knockaert has revealed the crippling depression problems which prevented him from performing at his best for the Seagulls last season.
Knockaert was named Championship Player of the Year for his role in helping Brighton get promoted in 2016/17, despite losing his father in November 2016.
But that loss, and the end of his marriage the following year, sent the Frenchman spiralling into a serious bout of depression which cast a pall over his first season in the top flight with Brighton. He scored only three goals in 33 appearances last season.
👏 Anthony Knockaert opens up about depression...— Brighton & Hove Albion ⚽️ (@OfficialBHAFC) September 20, 2018
💬 "I want to leave a message to footballers and people in general. As soon as they go through this, it’s important to talk to someone and not be scared.”#BHAFC 🔵⚪️
Knockaert's Message ➡️ https://t.co/fGkSWExTux pic.twitter.com/avzQ7KBB3Y
"I went through depression last season, which people obviously didn’t know about. It was really tough and mentally impossible for me to go and perform on the pitch," said Knockaert, speaking to Seagulls TV.
"I went through a divorce last year during pre-season, so it was really tough to take, especially after my Dad passed away. The club helped me. I saw a counsellor for a few months. Even some close relatives in my family didn’t know about it until recently, but now I’m ready to talk about it.
"I was making myself scared, thinking I was starting to become crazy – I was always in a bad mood, arguing with people, but that wasn’t my fault. I was going through a bad period and just didn’t control anything else.
“Going through depression, it just comes and you think you will never see the end. I couldn’t get out of that depression. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone."
Knockaert says that he is now 'happy again' and this has been reflected in his performances so far this season, with three assists to his name in Brighton's first five matches of the campaign.