'I thought I was too tough to need help' - Pulisic opens up on mental health battles

Christian Pulisic Chelsea 2020-21Getty Images

Christian Pulisic says he often felt he was too tough to ask for help, as the Chelsea star believes it is vital for people to understand the importance of speaking to professionals about mental health.

Pulisic recently opened up about his own struggles with mental health and how speaking to a therapist has helped him throughout his time at Chelsea.

He said that, at one point, he felt that talking to a professional was a sign of weakness, with the U.S. men's national team (USMNT) star saying that he now understands it's a sign of self-awareness and strength.

Pulisic opens up

"It took me a while to realise that to speak up feels strong," Pulisic told the Daily Mail. "I thought that I was too tough to need help. When it’s all on you, it can really feel like a lot. Opening up, it’s a hard thing for a lot of people, as it was for me. I reached out to a therapist and that’s not something that anyone should ever be ashamed of.

"It was kind of building up, as it was for a lot of people. Not just living alone but everything being closed up. Covid times brought a lot of changes and things were happening in my life. I was lucky that people at Chelsea and the national team steered me in the right direction."

His rekindled love for chess

One positive thing lockdown brought to Pulsiic was chess, as he rekindled his love for the game.

Pulisic says he grew up playing the game was his grandfather, who taught him an appreciation of strategy that has now helped him bond with his Chelsea teammates.

"Chess is a recent passion that I rekindled during all the time indoors in lockdown," Pulisic said. ‘I’d say N’Golo [Kante] and I are the top two. We always have good battles. He was much stronger than me when I started, always the No. 1, but I made it my goal to beat him so I had to work hard.

"I used to see him playing Olivier Giroud on the plane and we’d talk about it. It’s an incredible game that can help you with a lot of things like problem-solving or seeing different patterns. I’m not saying it directly correlates to me being a better footballer but it’s certainly better than staring at a screen, gaming."

Pulisic's grandfather Mate passed away in December in what was a dark moment for Pulisic.

The winger, whose middle name is Mate in honor of his late grandfather, recently got a special tattoo of a queen chess piece with his grandfather's name to commemorate the man that helped him fall in love with the game.

Article continues below

"I had it done after the Champions League final," he said. "There’s no great significance to the queen, though it’s a cool piece - versatile, powerful and can move anywhere.

"It was my grandpa who taught me how to play when I was younger. I was nowhere near his level and I wish we’d played more but I’m glad we shared that. It’s a memory I hold close to my heart. That’s why the tattoo is so special to me."

Further reading