Aston Villa and England defender Tyrone Mings says his mental health "plummeted" at the Euros as he opened up about his struggles this summer as well as his experiences with racism.
Mings admitted that he felt singled out at this summer's tournament for his lack of England experience, leading many to doubt him ahead of his starts in place of the injured Harry Maguire in the first two matches of the competition.
During that time, Mings admitted that it took a lot of work with his psychologist to get him into a mental state that allowed him to take the field for his country.
What did Mings say?
"I did have a tough time in the lead-up to the opening game against Croatia," he said in an interview with 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 were so many unknowns about me going to that game.
"I was probably the only name on the team sheet that people thought, 'not sure about him'. And that was something I had to overcome.
"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."
One person who named Mings as a potential weak link was former England star Rio Ferdinand, who had his pre-tournament concerns about the Aston Villa star due to his lack of Champions League experience.
But Mings ended up winning over Ferdinand before all was said and done, with the defender revealing the former Manchester United star personally reached out to admit he was wrong.
“Rio DM’d me after the tournament. He’d said I was the weak link, and that Croatia should be targeting me," he 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.”Getty Images
Mings' experience with racism
Mings has been outspoken regarding his fight with racism, as he recently criticised UK home secretary Priti Patel's lack of support for the players taking the knee in protest.
Following England's loss to Italy in the final this summer, Mings saw team-mates Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka racially abused after missing their penalties in the tournament-deciding shootout.
And Mings says that, unfortunately, he wasn't surprised to hear that some on social media had turned against his team-mates after the tournament ended in heartbreak.
“It’s always upsetting. It’s awful to say this, but it’s nothing new," he said. "It’s not surprising. But it’s not, and should never be, accepted. I think we all spoke to those players after the game because we had just lost the tournament and they were devastated about the penalties.
“We weren’t even aware of the racist abuse at this point. We could just see how upset they were, how they felt they had let people down. But that’s never the case when you step up and take a penalty. When you put yourself in that situation, you should never be abused for the outcome.”
Mings went on to detail his own experiences with racism, including an incident that saw him stopped by police near his hometown.
“I’ve been stopped by police in my car a few times," he said.
“I was in Chippenham — which is where I grew up so you’d think they’d know better — but they pulled me over and said something about my car not being registered around here, and wanted to know why I was in the area. I mean, I was in a Range Rover which I’m pretty sure isn’t illegal.
"I’ve had some subtle stuff as well, like being in the shops and getting funny looks, things like that. But I don’t think we are in a time when it’s as bad as it once was. And we’re so fortunate to live in a world where we’re not put in prison for our beliefs, or for the colour of our skin.”