Brighton star Knockaert reveals battle with depression
Anthony Knockaert revealed depression made it "mentally impossible" for him to perform in the Premier League last season as the Brighton and Hove Albion star opened up about his mental health struggles.
Knockaert has become a fan favourite since arriving from Standard Liege two years ago, helping Brighton gain promotion to the Premier League in 2016-17.
The 26-year-old Frenchman was key to Brighton's promotion, though Knockaert struggled to reach those lofty heights last term with three goals in 33 appearances.
Knockaert – whose father died in November 2016 – is back to his best on and off the pitch this season, and the winger encouraged others to seek help if they are struggling with depression or mental health issues.
Anthony Knockaert opens up about depression...
"I want to leave a message to footballers and people in general. As soon as they go through this, it’s important to talk to someone and not be scared.”#BHAFC
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) September 20, 2018
"I went through a divorce last year during pre-season and it was tough to take, especially after my dad [passing away]," Knockaert told BBC Sussex. "When I lost my dad the most important thing for me was my wife and baby. I realised I wouldn't be with my little boy every day.
"I was going through a really bad period and it was really tough. It was mentally impossible for me to go and perform.
"At times on the pitch I was not even focused or thinking about the game - I was trying to not show it to people and keep it to myself.
"The club was there for me and we kept it a secret. Even some close people in my family did not know about it until recently. Now I am back happy and I think you can see it on the pitch again."
Knockaert, who has set up three goals for Brighton in five Premier League matches this campaign, added: "I take everything as an experience and will use this to be stronger and be better on the pitch.
"When you are going through periods like this it is always good to see someone and not be scared to talk to someone, because one day you will be yourself again.
"I was seeing a counsellor last year for a good few months. She and the club helped me a lot. Now I am really good again and back to myself."