England defender Tyrone Mings has revealed his mental health “plummeted” during Euro 2020 when he was labeled the side’s “weakest link”.
The 28-year-old Aston Villa man was drafted into the England XI in Harry Maguire’s absence for the side’s opening two Euro 2020 games against Croatia and Scotland.
Mings revealed he spoke to a psychologist to cope with the pressure in the build-up as his mental health plummeted due to the public’s doubts about his ability.
“I did have a tough time in the lead-up to the opening game against Croatia,” Mings told The Sun. “I think I’m a lot more hardened to outside influences now, but my mental health did plummet.
“And I have no shame in admitting that because there was so many unknowns about me going to that game.
“I was probably the only name on the teamsheet that people thought, ‘Not sure about him’. And that was something I had to overcome.
“When 90-95 per cent of your country are having doubts over you, it’s very difficult to stop this intruding on your own thoughts.
“So I did a lot of work on that with my psychologist. I was given a lot of coping mechanisms — whether it was breathing, meditation, or just learning how to bring yourself into the present moment. To stop letting your subconscious take over.
“It was hard. I didn’t really sleep very well before that first game.”
England kept clean sheets in both games, before first choice Maguire returned to the England starting line-up after injury at Mings’ expense.
Mings, whose comments come in the wake of US Olympian Simone Biles’ withdrawal from Tokyo 2020 citing mental health, said comments made by ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand on BBC about him being the weakest part of the team impacted him.
“Rio DM’d me after the tournament. He’d said I was the weak link, and that Croatia should be targeting me,” Mings said.
“He messaged me saying something like, ‘Top-class response — matched your performances on the pitch.’ What a lovely guy.
“It’s just great that we are playing in a time now when you can speak about mental health, and how you are feeling.
“We have seen with Simone Biles you can speak on how you are feeling and hopefully feel supported by many people.”