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Unai Emery has admitted that the pressure of football used to get to him as a player, and he didn’t know how to manage it on his own.
Speaking in quotes reported by Telegraph this week, Emery explained that he needed someone to help him manage the mental strain of playing in front of thousands every week.
“When I was a player, all the pressures I felt created a lot of anxiety in me,” he said. “I didn’t know how to manage that on my own. I think I was missing someone – a manager, no doubt – who could teach me to control my emotions.”
The upside of this is that Emery knows exactly how it feels to deal with that sort of pressure alone. As a result, he aims to make sure that his players have someone to help them through similar scenarios.
“I really didn’t know how to manage that aspect when I was a player, and so when I became a trainer, I worked on it with my players because nobody had done so with me. I owed it to myself. My doubts and fears helped me to learn how to manage the pressures of being a manager and my work with the players.
“I got my diplomas, and when I became a coach I read a lot more about psychology, group management, pedagogy, leadership, in order to overcome all the weaknesses I had as a player.”
It’s great that Emery managed to turn his situation into a learning experience, but it just goes to show that even successful footballing players and coaches can suffer from these kinds of mental health issues.
It’s always more difficult to go through this sort of thing alone, and the Arsenal boss clearly recommends talking about the problem and working together to get through it. We can all learn something from his experience, and let’s hope the players in the current squad benefit from having someone who can empathise with them on that front.