England call-up brought 'new pressures and challenges' says Tyrone Mings

Monday 27 Jul 2020
Mings previously supported The FA's Heads Up campaign at a Christmas dinner with fans who've suffered with their mental health

Tyrone Mings has discussed how using a psychologist helped him deal with the mental impact of breaking into the England squad.

The Aston Villa defender was speaking to HRH The Duke of Cambridge as part of the Heads Up campaign, with governing bodies today coming together to agree the Mentally Healthy Football Declaration.

Mings was handed his first international call-up in August 2019 after just three games of the new season, with Villa newly-promoted into the Premier League.

And the 27-year-old admits his selection had unexpected consequences on his mindset:

"My playing career has gone in many different directions," said Mings, "and it (the call-up) probably came slightly earlier than I thought in the season – it was the first international camp and squad that was released, and I was included in it. 

"It came with a whole new set of pressures and a whole new set of challenges, and one of them was probably how to deal with coming back from England [duty] to being a club player again. 

"I'd just been called up for the first time and all of a sudden people were expecting me to probably be a lot better and a lot more experienced that I actually was. I found that it actually affected my performances because naturally people thought 'ah, I bet he thinks he's made it and that he's better than he is now' when, if anything, it was the complete opposite.

"I came back and found myself playing within myself because I didn't want to make mistakes and didn't want to put any unnecessary pressure on myself. They're things that are nothing to do with football – they're just a mentality. 

"I've spoken with a psychologist ever since I got injured at Bournemouth in 2015. We've spoken weekly ever since and I think that's something that's really helped me. I've found that, when it comes to football and using a psychologist, it just seems like a natural step."

Mings says his mental health was at its worst after being injured on his Premier League debut

Mings, who began his career in non-league after being released by Southampton as a teenager, was only six minutes into his Premier League debut when he suffered a knee injury, meaning his next top-flight appearance would not come for another 16 months.

"I felt like I'd worked so hard and faced so many setbacks and challenges to get to the Premier League eventually, so to then get injured for the rest of the season on my debut was crushing," he said. 

"I felt like at that point I was at my lowest. I didn't know if Bournemouth were going to stay in the league and whether I'd ever get the chance to play in the Premier League again. 

"Having the control taken away from myself – my fate and my career was no longer really in my hands – was probably the most mentally-unstable I've been.

"I felt like that was a natural time to speak with a psychologist – or life coach or whatever you want to call them – and just try and get to the bottom of why I was feeling like that, or how I could get myself out of it. 

"I think it is a battle that you have to keep on top of and something that you really have to keep talking about."

By Jim Lucas