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Fox on the box: This royally good show gets the game talking

FOLLOWING on from last year’s A Royal Team Talk, Prince William features in a new documentary which again focuses on men’s mental health and how sport and football in particular can help those who are struggling to cope.

For those of us who still shudder at the memory of the Prince Edward-led It’s A Royal Knockout in the 1980s, a TV programme hosted by a leading member of the monarchy may instill a certain amount of trepidation. But in Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health [BBC iPlayer] we have an important film and in the Duke of Cambridge, a young man passionate about a subject close to his heart, one which he talks about passionately and sympathetically.

Whether it be the Premier League elite, grassroots players or fans on the terraces, William (pictured) employs a common touch, managing to put interviewees at ease, a vital skill considering the sensitivity of the subject matter. Credit must also go to those opening up about their own personal problems.

Former England goalkeeper Joe Hart speaks of suffering big ‘whacks’, such as being benched at Burnley or not being part of Pep Guardiola’s plans at Manchester City, while the Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings admits seeking help to get him though recent injury.

‘It’s a difficult one because nobody really cares if you have a bad day, if you’re having a problem mentally or physically or you’ve got problems at home. You can’t carry that into a game because you only really get judged on your performance,’ says Mings.

‘So I pay a psychologist to help me throughout the week. I found that throughout my injury and stuff that was the thing that helped me.’

Perhaps the most moving tale belongs to former Watford, Bolton and Burton striker Marvin Sordell, who cites mental heath problems as a major reason for quitting the game at 28. Sordell at one time attempted to take his own life and says of his depression: ‘I didn’t talk about it, because as a professional footballer it would be used in a negative way against you.’

Earlier, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard admits as a player he was ‘stuck in the stone age’ when it came to mental health, and clubs still have a long way to go in dealing with it. But with this Royal intervention they appear to have at least got the ball rolling.