Perhaps the greatest legacy left behind by U.S. national team and Major League Soccer legend Landon Donovan is down to the increased awareness and attention now paid to the mental health and stability of professional athletes.
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Forget all of Donovan’s goals, records and championships — when a player is hurting mentally, they must be treated and cared for with just as much consideration and delicacy as a player being nursed back from a physical injury. That’s what Donovan believes and preaches to this day.
More than 5,000 miles away from Donovan’s home in Los Angeles, another world-recognized footballer is going through a tough time of his own. Emmanuel Adebayor admitted earlier this week that he has often contemplated suicide over a number of years.
Adebayor, via a Facebook post:
“Many times I wanted to give up. Ask my sister Iyabo Adebayor how many times I have called and was ready to commit suicide.
“I kept these stories for years. But if I die, no one would know my story, no one would learn from it. Some people say I should keep these stories private, but someone has to sacrifice himself, someone has to talk about it.”
Adebayor’s latest admission comes barely two weeks after a bizarre Facebook post in which he called out a number of family members for not only being selfish, but having anything and everything but his best interests in mind.
In light of this week’s revelation, Adebayor has been granted compassionate leave by his club, Tottenham Hotspur, and has returned to his native Togo ahead of this weekend’s final game of the season.
Assuming Adebayor chooses to continue his career beyond this season, he will almost certainly do it at a club other than Tottenham. Wherever he may end up this summer, one can only hope it’s a place where mental healthcare is very much understood by his new employer. Happy players are better players, of course, but happy people must be the top priority.