The Duke of Cambridge discussed the importance of encouraging people – particularly men – to speak up about their mental health with Everton footballers, as he visited the club's Everton in the Community charity on Thursday. Prince William, 37, met football stars Theo Walcott, Jordan Pickford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Seamus Coleman and Tom Davies to discuss how they cope with pressures on and off the pitch.
Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin told the royal: "We have had some tough times over the past two or three seasons and we have helped each other. One thing that nothing can prepare you for is the opinions of thousands and thousands of people."
The Duke asked the group if they had come across other players with mental health problems, to which Everton right-back Seamus Coleman said: "I've spoken to a couple of lads in Ireland and it's not until they have finished playing they have started speaking about it." William said: "They shouldn't be embarrassed," before adding, "I really appreciate what you guys are doing, it's fantastic."
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William with the memorabilia rattle
The royal visited the hub as part of his Heads Up campaign, which uses the influence and popularity of football to show the nation that mental health is just as important as physical health.
William, who is an avid Aston Villa fan, was shown an old football rattle in the club's colours when he joined the Stand Together project, a programme which tackles social isolation amongst those aged 70+ living in Merseyside. Aston Villa will face Manchester City in the Carabou Cup final at Wembley on Sunday 1 March, and William joked: "Can I take it to Wembley? We're going to need a lot of these!"
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William played emoji bingo
During the visit to Everton in the Community, William also visited the Tackling the Blues project, a sport and education-based programme targeting youngsters experiencing mental health challenges, where he played a game of emoji-bingo with a group of primary school children.
The Duke's eldest child Prince George has already proved he's following in his dad's footsteps when he attended his first Villa match against Norwich City last October. The six-year-old was spotted jumping up and down as the match ended in a 5-1 victory.
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