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Footballers deserve right of privacy over mental health, says Jurgen Klopp

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes footballers deserve the right to tackle their personal health issues away from the public glare.

Everton winger Aaron Lennon has been in the headlines all week after he was detained under the Mental Health Act on Sunday, with his club saying he was suffering from a stress-related illness.

Klopp does not believe it is fair to an individual sportsman to have their medical problems openly debated.

“Whatever I could say about it doesn’t help, it is only another headline,” said Klopp.

“What I really think is (that we should) keep all these kind of issues as private as possible. Give the people the privacy they need – stop talking about it, stop asking about it.

“If it is not a football player the only advantage is that no one asks about it, so it is easy to come back when you feel better. “In football or in the public eye everyone is interested and I don’t like it.

“It is like watching a car accident – instead of helping you only watch or take your smartphone out, and I really hate it.

“I am sure Everton are doing everything they can to keep it as private as possible and that is their job and everything will be good in the end.

“It is a problem in the world, but in sport, as we all know, things like this can happen.”

However, Stoke boss Mark Hughes has a different viewpoint as he believes bringing the subject out into the open is beneficial.

“I think it is important that people are able to feel comfortable with speaking about mental health issues,” he said.

“It is obviously worrying for Aaron at the moment, but I’m sure he is getting the support he needs.

“When these things happen it is a shame and sad for the individual but I do think it helps everybody else in terms of bringing it to people’s attention.

“Certainly in professional sport there is this image that management and coaches and players are immune to this, and that is obviously totally wrong.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 26, 2017: England's manager Gareth Southgate and Adam Lallana during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group F match against Lithuania at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

England manager Gareth Southgate believes the country’s female footballers are better at opening up about the pressures and stresses of the game than their male counterparts.

Speaking to head teachers at the Boarding School Association’s conference in York, Southgate acknowledged elite football as a risk area and highlighted the struggles he has noticed in encouraging young footballers to engage with the issue.

“It’s a highly pressurised environment, no question, for any performer going on stage there is enormous anxiety, whether that person is a sportsman or sportswoman, actor, musician, comedian…there’s always an element of ‘can I do it today?’, self doubt,” he said.

“We’re in a sport where boys aren’t comfortable opening up in front of each other. Our women’s senior team are brilliant at sharing reflectively. They share their feelings, they have a different dynamic as a group.

“Our men’s team are bloody hard work, that’s one of the dynamics I’ve found as a coach. “It isn’t their natural desire. They don’t really want to show weakness in front of each other.

“I try to give them permission to do that by showing them all the weaknesses I have, but sharing and opening up isn’t a natural thing (for them) to do.”

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