‘A miserable time’: Striker reveals mental health issues while at Arsenal

Matthew Chivers November 3, 2020
‘A miserable time’: Striker reveals mental health issues while at Arsenal
Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith has revealed he suffered from mental health issues towards the end of his career, speaking on the In Lockdown podcast.

Smith, who also played for Leicester City, scored 39 goals in 166 appearances for Arsenal.

Despite being part of a successful side that won five major trophies, Smith admitted lost confidence and bad form led to him seeing a psychologist.

Opening up on issues

Talking about the end of his career, Smith said: “My confidence gradually dipped to the point where it was on the floor.

“My goal output fell off a cliff, which was so upsetting having been a regular goalscorer for all those years before.

“It was a miserable time. Not only was I going into matches with very little confidence, snatching at chances, but in training too. It had become a bit of a chore.”

Between 1993 and 1995, Smith only scored five Premier League goals in 44 appearances.

This was in stark contrast with his record in the 1991/1992 First Division season, where the Englishman scored 12 goals in 38 appearances. He also won 16 England caps during his career, scoring three goals.

Mental health now more important

Smith is now a pundit on Sky Sports and he spoke about how mental health had become a greater issue in football.

He said: “I think now you’d give (mental health) a lot more attention. I didn’t really speak to the gaffer (George Graham) about it. He must have wondered what was going on.

“He’d drop you and he’d urge you to do better. But you’d never really have a heart to heart in a human way, in the way perhaps you would now. 

“We look at the mental health side of things a lot more. I just regret I wasn’t able to fix it and I didn’t do better in that regard.”

Smith scored his most memorable goal for Arsenal in 1994, the winner as his side beat Parma 1-0 in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

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Graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2019, and has since become a qualified NCTJ journalist, studying at News Associates in Manchester.