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Iwobi advises Black men to open up over mental health issues after overcoming his own difficulties

20:30 GMT+3 08/12/2022
Alex Iwobi Everton 2022-23
Nigeria midfielder Alex Iwobi has urged men to always open up and express even their vulnerable side.
  • Everton midfielder wants men to avoid feeling vulnerable
  • The Nigerian international feels seeking help & speaking out is key
  • Iwobi has seen a turn in fortunes after his struggles at Arsenal

WHAT HAPPENED? Iwobi has discussed his struggles moving from Arsenal to Everton and then how failing to qualify for the World Cup had impacted him.

The 26-year-old says he was able to get over his struggles by speaking to a psychiatrist and teammates. He feels other men, especially Black men, should not be afraid to ‘be vulnerable.’

WHAT DID HE SAY? "Don't be afraid to be vulnerable," said Iwobi at an exhibition in London to raise awareness around mental health as quoted by ITV.

"I feel like it is something within men, especially Black men, as society is positioned not do that and if you do you are weak. Be OK being vulnerable, there is nothing wrong with it."

"It is only going through life and there is so much trauma in young Black men [you learn] that if you only speak about, it you'd be able to navigate it."

"There is nothing wrong with telling people 'I'm not all right in the world’.

"I'm just not in the right space'.

"Playing football is a big one because you are not dealing with the issue at hand, it is still there and you escape it but it is still with you.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Mental health has become an integral issue among footballers with many suffering in silence but Iwobi insists accepting and seeking help is the way to go.

Iwobi's game has improved tremendously under Frank Lampard and he is now among the first names on the team sheet, having silenced his critics.

The Nigerian was moved from the wing into a free midfield role by Lampard where he has become a success, providing six assists while scoring one goal so far.

WHAT’S MORE? Iwobi has particularly credited Lampard for giving him the lift that saw him turn his career around.

"Last season, I wasn't playing as much as I'd like to and then in January, I had the Africa Cup of Nations and I had that red card [at the tournament] which essentially knocked us out and it was a difficult time for me," Iwobi added.

"I came back to a new manager with Frank Lampard and I'm grateful to him as he said 'Why don't you play matches the way you train?'.

"That pressure which was on my shoulders just left me. He gave me that confidence so I had that freedom to enjoy my football. Ever since, I've had that mindset where I go into the game fearless and express myself."

WHAT’S NEXT? Iwobi joined his Everton teammates on their return to training on Thursday as they prepare for the Premier League return with the Toffees set to face Wolves on Boxing Day.