Former Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Dean Cox has spoken out honestly about his recent battle with depression.
The Seagulls academy product, who made over 150 appearances during a six-year spell with the club, opened up candidly about his time out of the game over the last 12 months and revealed the effect it has had on his life, with today being World Mental Health Day.
He said, “I think my last year or so has been well-documented, I’ve played in the Football League all my career and my last year at that level was tough because I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked.
“I wasn’t in the squad and my contract was running out, you then start to worry about what you’re going to do and how you’re going to support your family.
“I wanted to change my life and it was a big worry for me – luckily my family and friends helped, and I’ve become a dad recently which has helped massively.
“I think the time I first spoke out about what I was going through was the best day because you feel like it takes a massive weight off your shoulders.
“You build a pathway from there – I got myself playing football again and everyone has bills to pay, so there’s that relief of having that sorted.
“It’s about making sure the family are secure because that was my main worry. I’ve turned dropping out of the Football League into a positive. I’m now playing every week – there’s a bit less pressure and it’s all about enjoying the game for me now.
“It was about me getting through that tough spell, life doesn’t stop, and you have to go with it – that’s what I’ve done and now I’m really happy with my situation because I’ve left it in the past and moved on.”
Cox’s words follow those of Albion midfielder Anthony Knockaert, who also opened up about his recent off-the-field battles last month prior to the game with Tottenham Hotspur at the Amex Stadium.
The former Leyton Orient and Crawley Town man, who is now playing for Eastbourne Borough, was full of praise for the Frenchman’s courage to reveal his troubles, as well as highlighting the influence players of that stature can have by speaking out.
“Someone like Anthony Knockaert speaking out about it is massive because people see him as a Premier League superstar.
“They’re such high-profile people and it’s so refreshing to see. People think that playing in the Premier League means your life is perfect, but he’s proved it isn’t.
“Everyone’s human and everyone deals with things differently – if people can speak out then what we’re hoping is that others get the confidence to do the same.”
Knockaert came out and spoke about the effect that the loss of his father and separation from his partner soon after had on his life both on and off the field, and Cox spoke glowingly about the Albion man’s revelations.
“People on the outside may not recognise how quickly the sport moves – I use Anthony as an example and even though he’s a professional footballer, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have feelings like the rest of us.
“He’s a human being and he’s a fantastic footballer, but things happen in life and he’s come through some really difficult times.
“Who’s to say that he shouldn’t come and speak out about those? His life hasn’t been easy, and it just shows that money doesn’t buy happiness in any walk of life.
“I think it’s great he’s come out – he’s a local hero and it just goes to show that people at any level can be having problems and going through the same things as anyone else.”