Stuart Sinclair opens up on mental health as part of charity awareness week
Walsall midfielder Stuart Sinclair has opened up on his mental health and life as a footballer as part of mental health awareness week.
The EFL and charity Mind have been releasing videos this week speaking to managers and players about their experiences in the game and with their own mental health.
In their latest video, Sinclair, who is an ambassador for the charity, sat down with former footballer and Sky Sports presenter Scott Minto and a major talking point was how the 32-year-old found the right balance in his working and private life.
"I was never the most talented person as a footballer so I was always acutely aware that I had to work really hard," Sinclair said.
"I probably got too driven in that aspect and everything was focused on that, everything around my whole world was football.
"My diet, my mental health, everything was driven to that and that was my pinnacle.
"I've worked really hard to get to the level I'm playing at and when I got there I realised it was going to end and I wouldn't have anything else, so I then worked harder on taking up other interests.
"I have three of four interests outside of football that I try and do as much as possible.
"I've worked harder in the last two years to try and create a balance.
"I met my partner five years ago and she definitely helped – I'm an introverted type of person.
"I don't have a massive circle of friends so I can become quite reclusive in that way.
"Football was everything and maybe I didn't push myself in other ways, but now I have a better balance.
"You grow and learn that as you get older, especially in your 20s.
"My mum would say the same, I talk to her a lot about my mental health and how I structure things with football and my family.
"I think she would say now that I'm more rounded as a person which is probably a good thing."
The midfielder, who joined the Saddlers last summer, followed manager Darrell Clarke having previously worked with him at Bristol Rovers.
Sinclair insists that loyalty played a part in his decision, alongside the relationship he has forged with Clarke.
"I've worked with the gaffer for a very long time and he's really helped me, trusted me and grown me as a footballer and as a person," Sinclair added.
"I like to think I'm quite loyal and I want to do as much for him to help and progress Walsall as a football club.
"It's been a whirlwind and I've really enjoyed it.
"The relationship with the players and the community is such an important thing and it pushes the club forward.
"As you progress through your career you go through different challenges, a few weeks back I was speaking to the gaffer and I was emotional.
"I was coming out of an injury and I was feeling negative and we spoke about it.
"I try to now help the younger lads and that's why I've enjoyed it so much at Walsall.
"It's not just about me and my career but being able to share that with others.
"We have Alfie Bates who is a tremendous talent and we're discussing all of those things at the minute."
Despite the challenges this season, including a handful of injuries, Sinclair takes pride in helping the squad's younger members during an 'exciting' time for the club.
"It almost takes me back to when I joined Bristol Rovers, the Walsall team is full of good, young footballers," he said.
"As a young footballer the most important thing is consistency and that's very hard.
"I think back to when I was younger, I wasn't consistent enough.
"We have a young side but the more games we play, we're growing, and that's been amazing.
"It's been really nice to be involved with and watch, and hopefully be able to help.
"It's an exciting period at the football club."