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England’s Tyrone Mings says his mental health ‘plummeted’ ahead of Euro 2020 opening match

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England footballer Tyrone Mings has revealed he struggled with mental health problems at Euro 2020 which left him feeling like 95% of the country were “having doubts” about him.

The Aston Villa defender deputised for Harry Maguire in England’s first two games against Croatia and Scotland, with the Manchester United star still recovering from an ankle injury.

Mings told The Sun newspaper: “I did have a tough time in the lead-up to the opening game against Croatia.

“I think I’m a lot more hardened to outside influences now, but my mental health did plummet. And I have no shame in admitting that because there was so many unknowns about me going to that game.”

Euro 2020 - Semi Final - England v Denmark
Image: Mings celebrates with his England teammates during the Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark

Mings, 28, said: “I was probably the only name on the team sheet that people thought, ‘Not sure about him’. And that was something I had to overcome. When 90-95% of your country are having doubts over you, it’s very difficult to stop this intruding on your own thoughts.

“So I did a lot of work on that with my psychologist. It was hard. I didn’t really sleep very well before that first game.”

American gymnastics star Simone Biles has made headlines at the Olympics by pulling out of several events due to mental health concerns, while England all-rounder Ben Stokes is taking an indefinite break from cricket to safeguard his wellbeing.

More on Euro 2020

“It’s just great that we are playing in a time now when you can speak about mental health, and how you are feeling,” Mings said.

“We have seen with Simone Biles you can speak on how you are feeling and hopefully feel supported by many people.”

England's Tyrone Mings (left), Marcus Rashford (centre) and Reece James following defeat in the penalty shoot-out after the UEFA Euro 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium
Image: England’s Tyrone Mings (left), Marcus Rashford (centre) and Reece James following defeat in the penalty shootout against Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand was a notable voice questioning Mings, in his role as a BBC pundit, calling him the “weakest part of the team”.

He told viewers before the Croatia match: “I think it’s the weakest part of our team, and an area where most people are concerned.

“He has not played Champions League football, he has not played at this level.”

Simone Biles of the United States during training in Tokyo
Image: Simone Biles has spoken about her mental health struggles at this year’s Olympic Games

Ferdinand later contacted the Villa star to praise both his performances and his response to Home Secretary Priti Patel’s dismissal of England taking the knee as “gesture politics”.

When Patel tweeted her “disgust” at online abuse of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after their penalty shootout misses in the Euro 2020 final against Italy, Mings wrote: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

He said: “Rio DM’d me after the tournament. He’d said I was the weak link, and that Croatia should be targeting me.

“He messaged me saying something like, ‘Top-class response – matched your performances on the pitch.’ What a lovely guy.”

Bukayo Saka and Gareth Southgate
Image: Bukayo Saka is comforted by Gareth Southgate after missing his penalty
England's Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford (right). Pic: AP
Image: England’s Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford (right) were targeted online. Pic: AP

Mings also referenced his experience with social media trolling and the impact the racist abuse of Rashford, Sancho and Saka had, which prompted widespread condemnation and calls for more to be done to protect people online.

The UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) also launched an investigation into the abuse.

Mings said: “It’s always upsetting. It’s awful to say this, but it’s nothing new. It’s not surprising. But it’s not, and should never be, accepted. I think we all spoke to those players after the game because we had just lost the tournament and they were devastated about the penalties.

“We weren’t even aware of the racist abuse at this point.

“We could just see how upset they were, how they felt they had let people down.

“But that’s never the case when you step up and take a penalty. When you put yourself in that situation, you should never be abused for the outcome.”