My transition away from playing the game at the top level took its toll

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES: Soccer star Archie Thompson revealed his transition out of professional sport was made easier by talking to his brother. Picture: MARK JESSER

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES: Soccer star Archie Thompson revealed his transition out of professional sport was made easier by talking to his brother. Picture: MARK JESSER

As a male, you don’t tend to share your feelings very well or very often.

Being in a football environment, you tend to keep a lot of feelings to yourself.

I was going through a transitional phase at the end of my career and I wasn’t really too sure who to talk to.

I found myself a lot of times going home and staring at the wall.

I’m very fortunate I had my brother, who was there through some of those tough periods, to talk to.

I was so used to waking up and knowing exactly what I had to do every day.

I’d get in the car, drive straight to training and that’s what I had been doing for the last 11 years.

I think once I realised that wasn’t going to be my morning any more, it took its toll.

There’s a lot of talk about mental health issues in sport, especially with men in sport, who feel like they can’t say anything.

I know they’re trying to put a lot more emphasis on it with people you can talk to, but sometimes it’s hard to show your weakness.

As much as it’s a team sport, it’s very individual, and, for me, not knowing what was going to happen in the next stage of my life was hard.

I was just lucky I had my brother there to talk to, because some people haven’t got anyone.

That’s why you probably see a lot of people in the sporting industry turning to other ways to block out what’s happening, by doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing.

There’s people that turn to drinking, drugs or gambling and it could be because they haven’t got anyone to talk to.

I can see how easily people can go down that path, because at the end of the day, they’re human.

They’re good at a sport that people are entertained by, so when that’s taken away, it changes everything.  

We might say thank you here and there, but you never know when something could happen and you don’t get the opportunity to say what’s on your mind.

 A great example is my sister, who lost her husband three years ago.

We all grew up together and played soccer together and he was a massive football fan of mine.

He was the same age as me and I think of things I wish I could have said to him.

I know there's millions of things my sister wish she could have said and not have any regrets.

With the ‘Say It Now’ campaign, that’s what it’s all about.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be about saying thank you, it can also be a way to bring people back together after a challenging period of time.

There’s nothing more important than friends and family, so if you don’t say something, they’re never going to know how you truly feel about them.

It’s great that the word is out there a lot more now.

It makes people more aware that maybe they should take a little time to call one of their loved ones or a friend to say thanks for what they’ve done in a period that was really tough on them.