WATCH: Prince William talks mental health with football stars
The former footballer, who is dad to Brooklyn, 21, Romeo, 17, Cruz, 15, and Harper Seven, nine, said: "I'm the one who is preaching to my kids and also other kids that I talk to out there that it’s really important to talk, it's really important to say if you're not okay, because like you've said that this time more than any time, there'll be a lot of sportsmen, a lot of footballers that have had four or five months off that are coming back into the game that have been anxious over this time... we all know now it’s okay not to be okay and it’s okay to say that, it's okay to come out and say 'I need help'."
As part of his long-standing Heads Up campaign, Prince William chatted with former England captain David, England and Manchester City Women's captain Steph Houghton, Aston Villa and England's Tyrone Mings, Crystal Palace's Andros Townsend and Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, on a group video call. The conversation follows the announcement that the entire UK football family has signed a joint declaration, committing to make mental health a key priority across the English game.
William spoke with a host of football stars
William also asked David, 45, who recently became the co-owner of a football franchise in Miami, about his infamous sending off in the 1998 World Cup and how it affected his confidence at the age of 23.
David said: "When I look back on it now, I didn't realise how hard it was but I just remember the times where I faced adversity throughout my career, ‘98 was by far the toughest."
The former Manchester United player explained that club manager Sir Alex Ferguson protected him at the time, but on the pitch was a different story, adding: "Once you're on the field, you have to mentally prepare for that, you have to really understand that yes, you have your teammates, but that doesn’t make you stop thinking 'what are they saying about me in the crowds?'
"I think I went through that at a very young age. I made a mistake, you know, I made a mistake in ‘98 and the reaction at the time was pretty brutal. I was constantly criticised on the pitch verbally. But like I said at the start of this, times have changed. If social media was around when I was going through that time in ‘98, it would have been a whole different story."
He added: "But I was lucky. I had a support system within Manchester United and the manager and obviously family, but did I feel at the time it was okay to ask someone and say, ‘I need help'? - I would say no, no, it was a different era and I just felt I had to keep it all in and deal with it myself."
David with his children
The Duke, who recently appeared in the BBC documentary Prince William, Football and our Mental Health, spoke of his pride of convincing the FA to change this year's Cup Final to the Heads Up FA Cup Final to continue his crusade for improving the stigma around mental wellbeing. He said: "We've managed to get the entire football community to sign up to promoting and showing how important mental health is in football and therefore hopefully in society through fans and things like that."
Heads Together partnered with The Football Association (of which William is President) last August to start Heads Up, a campaign that uses football to normalise the conversation around mental health.
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