Landon Donovan talks depression, World Cup snub and more

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In a wide-ranging Q&A with Jeffrey Carlisle from ESPN, Landon Donovan has revealed the extent of the depression he suffered while playing the game he loves.

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Donovan, 32, will step down from U.S. national team duty on Friday, making his 157th and final appearance for the Stars and Stripes at Rentschler Field in East Hartford (Watch live, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN) as his incredible career for the USA will be celebrated.

In a Q&A released on Friday, Donovan revealed that he suffered from depression and on World Mental Health Day (held on Oct. 10 each year) Donovan also dissected mental-health issues in sport.

Here’s what the all-time leading goalscorer in U.S. national team history had to say when asked by ESPN if he was suffering from depression.

“I was. And I was burnt out, and getting up and going to training every day was really weighing on me,” Donovan said. “I never wanted it to be that way. I think a lot of players, a lot of athletes feel that way at times. I think they’re scared to say it because it shows perceived weakness. It shows your coach that you’re not completely committed like all coaches want. It shows that you’re human, and sometimes people don’t like to see that. But I realized that if I stayed on that path, it was just going to get worse and worse. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to live my life that way.

I think probably a lot of people can relate to that at some point in their life or their career. I hope people look at that and say, ‘Gosh, I guess it’s okay to feel human feelings once in a while.’ [smiles]. It’s what makes us human.”

Donovan then went on to talk about mental health issues in sport, saying that the USA has “a very big issue with mental health in our country, and I think it’s very much under-publicized. I think people aren’t aware of it themselves. They don’t have compassion towards it.”

Talking about topics from depression in sports, scoring big goals against Mexico and his pride in playing for the USA, this Q&A is really worth a read as Donovan opens up.