Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye has revealed he battled depression following his debut season in the Premier League.
The Frenchman arrived on Tyneside in 2011 and played a prominent role as Alan Pardew’s side exceeded expectations to finish fifth in the top flight.
Despite his success on the field, Cabaye says the gruelling demands of English football and the lack of a winter break left him mentally exhausted going into Euro 2012.
“Depression? I am not afraid to say that. It was that,” he told L’Equipe.
“But I was reassured reading the books of Jonny Wilkinson and Rafael Nadal, who both talked about the same thing. They talked about post competition depression and the need to have a break.
“Euro 2012 was the first big international competition I had played. It is completely different than what you could experience in daily life with your club.
“My season was long in a league where the pace is higher than in Le Championnat (Ligue 1). I started with Newcastle early in July 2011 and finished late in June 2012 and, for the very first time, I didn’t have any winter break so then to resume in July 2012, it was very difficult.
“Maybe it is difficult to start again after a big competition such as the Euros, but my body didn’t allow me to do what I wanted to do.
“On a morning when I woke up, I could still feel tiredness. I wanted to think about something else rather than football.
“I am lucky to earn a living with my passion, but it was the right moment for a break. So my groin injury at the end of the year was finally not such a bad thing. Maybe that is why I was back earlier than expected.
“I asked myself a lot of questions. As long as you didn’t experience it (depression) you cannot understand. But I was not worried.”