Aaron Lennon's stress-related illness prompts Premier League response
By Simon Ormiston
Last Updated: 04/05/17 6:47pm
Recent news that Aaron Lennon is being treated for a stress-related illness has prompted key figures in football to have their say on the issue.
There has been a huge show of support for Lennon with many saying it is a bigger problem than some realise and that wealth and fame are not a cure.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says the club are in contact with Lennon's agent and his family and will do all they can to help.
"It was someone who played here for nearly 10 years and of course Tottenham care about him. The players, the staff and everyone here cares about his situation."
Players, managers and pundits have taken to Twitter to show their support including England and Leicester striker Jamie Vardy and some of Lennon's former teammates including Ledley King and Jermain Defoe.
Leon Osman spent two seasons at Everton with Lennon and told Premier League Daily: "The problem is identifying the people who need help. Players tend to keep things to themselves.
"But things are changing within football and it's more accepted to come and get help if you need it and that has to be the way forward."
Osman's view was echoed by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who believes that players are worried about the fallout of talking to their teammates or the manager.
Wenger said: "Not all the players, even if they feel the need, want to be helped by people at the club. Sometimes you don't want to show your feelings as it could be interpreted as a weakness. I believe that most of the players want help from outside the club."
Bournemouth defender Adam Smith knows Lennon from his time at White Hart Lane and told Sky Sports that football is more than a job to many players.
He said: "We live and breathe football, it's not just our job it's our life and if you are not playing well, or not even playing, it's hard. When you are away from your family and friends sometimes it can be a lonely place."
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is preparing his team to face Tottenham this weekend and pointed to the influence of social media.
"One day, you are king the next, you are zero. With social media, you even know what the fans in New Zealand think about you before that wasn't the case. The clubs are trying but everyone that is involved in football should do more," he said.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche is concerned that some dismiss mental health issues in football because of the huge salaries players receive and Sunderland's Steven Pienaar agrees with Dyche's assertion.
Pienaar said: "I don't think we do get enough support. People think footballers get paid a lot of money but they don't know we are under a lot of pressure every day. As a player you need people around you who will help you and encourage you and are open to listen."
Former Chelsea and Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins suffered from depression when he quit football and has urged players to seek help.
He told Premier League Daily: "The most important thing is getting it out there. Be brave enough to admit that these things do happen and you aren't in a good place to deal with that. 15 years ago it was a weakness. It's not a fact of being a weak person it's just that something has got to grips with you and you can't quite cope with that situation."
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