Gaz Baz urges PFA and clubs to do more for retiring players

Date published: Saturday 6th April 2019 11:41 - Ian Watson

Gareth Barry has urged the Professional Footballers’ Association and clubs to do more to support players’ mental health ahead of their retirement.

The former England international admits he is fearful of ending his career and no one has yet made contact to help prepare him for it.

The 38-year-old West Brom midfielder, who is out of contract in the summer, wants to carry on for another year but feels players need more guidance before they finish.

“Being honest, the PFA and the clubs probably don’t offer as much,” said Barry, who won the Premier League with Manchester City.

“The PFA are there to help you out and cope with it a lot more but individuals are coming out and you’re not experienced.

“I could potentially retire pretty soon but has anyone spoken to me about what I’m doing? No.

“Sometimes you are left to your own devices. There’s definitely stuff that can be done.

“It’s such an important period in people’s lives, Suddenly they probably feel they are on their own.

“(Retirement scares me) a tiny bit if I’m honest. Anything you’re not in control of you can’t be that comfortable with.

“I can’t sit here and be all big balls and take it in my stride because it’ll probably be difficult to deal with. I’m not one to plan but I’m always positive about things.”

The PFA offers a 24-hour helpline, has a national network of over 100 counsellors and has treated over 1,000 members.

The union has also hosted two mental health conferences and has an online youth advisory service for academy players, who are yet to be PFA members.

Barry was speaking at the launch of this year’s Nick Mowl Cup, in memory of former Solihull Moors player Mowl who committed suicide in 2017.

The competition, held in May, aims to raise awareness about mental health and £100,000 for a national suicide prevention text scheme.

Barry believes attitudes towards mental health have changed since he started playing at Aston Villa in 1998.

He said: “I wasn’t sure whether to bring this up but I was thinking about it. When I played with Stan Collymore and he came out with his problems, it made big headlines.

“Back then it was looked on a lot differently, there was probably less sympathy. Now it’s not something you have to worry about. You can say you have mental problems and are struggling a little bit.”

Meanwhile Barry, who holds the Premier League appearance record with 653, is chasing promotion back to the top flight with West Brom.

“I definitely wanted to play one more year, that’s still the case now,” said the midfielder, who won 53 England caps.

“Anything is a bonus. My health is good and if I still feel I can compete at the level then why not.

“That would be nice (adding to his Premier League record) but I’m just grateful to still be playing.

“I’m relaxed about my future, the club need to know where they are but we’re confident we can go up. Then decisions will be made then.”

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