Mental health is more important than being physically fit, says Brighton striker Murray

The Seagulls attacker spoke as part of the FA’s partnership with Heads Together, with players and fans being urged to discuss personal problems

Brighton’s Glenn Murray has stated his belief that mental health is more important that physical fitness as the striker sat down with team-mate Dan Burn and former midfielder Steve Sidwell to discuss the ‘Heads Up Weekends’.

Saturday marks the first of two weekends in which the English FA and the Heads Together campaign team up to open a conversation on mental wellbeing, a project that hopes to see more footballers discuss their emotions when feeling depressed or anxious.

And Murray, together with his Seagulls compatriots, has asserted that it does not matter how well you train ahead of a match if your head is not in the right place.

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“I personally feel mental health is the most important thing for me to play well on the field,” the 36-year-old told the Premier League’s official website.

“We’ve got physios to keep us physically right, nutritionists to make sure you eat right – obviously there isn’t as much mental health [support] but it’s opening up now – but I feel as though if I go and have fish and chips before a game, which is a big no-no, I could still get through it if my mind was right.

“If my mind isn’t right and I eat well leading up to [a match] then you’re not getting it out.”

Burn echoed the striker’s comments, stating that physical ailments had been far easier to diagnose and treat until recently, when support for personal issues has started to become available.

“If you go to the doctor’s and you feel ill, they can tell you exactly what’s wrong with you, whereas it’s hard, you can get caught up in your own mind,” the defender said.

“The more we speak about it and do it, it’s good that we’ll give people tools to deal with it, so they don’t think, ‘Why am I feeling anxious?’”

And Sidwell, now a youth development coach at Brighton, believes it can only be a good thing that role models within the game are starting to open up and make it easier for others to do the same.

“When you see powerful people on TV that are heroes to fans, and they see people like yourselves going through it, and other sports icons going through it, they think, ‘Wow, if they can open up and speak it filters down’.”

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