‘It came out like a waterfall’: Leeds United star’s candid mental health story that almost derailed career

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Leeds United defender Max Wober opened up on the mental health battles that almost led him to quit football altogether.

Leeds United star Max Wober opened up about his serious mental health battles that almost led to him calling time on life as a footballer.

The centre-back gave an interview to the Premier League as part of the Mental Health Awareness Week campaign and spoke of struggles when playing for Ajax.

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Wober joined Leeds United in January and has quickly become a regular for the side, keeping his place in defence under Jesse Marsh, Javi Gracia and Sam Allardyce.

When in Amsterdam, the now 25-year-old struggled to find the motivation to leave the house and complete simple tasks such as shopping after an injury halted his rise as a promising youngster.

Wober started his career at Rapid Wien and had just broken into the first team when Ajax came calling for his services.

The defender said: "Suddenly in the transfer period Ajax Amsterdam called me and said we really want to buy you.

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"The first months were amazing, to play regularly in front of 50,000 people was my dream. Then a couple of months in I got my first big injury and then everything from there changed a bit for me."

It took Wober longer than expected to recover from the injury setback and his mental health away from the game took a turn for the worse.

Max Woeber has been first choice for Leeds since arriving in January (Image: Getty Images)Max Woeber has been first choice for Leeds since arriving in January (Image: Getty Images)
Max Woeber has been first choice for Leeds since arriving in January (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

He continued: "I suddenly realised I was on my own. I had no friends in Amsterdam or anyone I really knew.

"I just started to feel really lonely and tried to cover it a little bit because with football there's a lot of testosterone in the dressing room, you have to compete everyday. Sometimes you can get the feeling showing weakness is not allowed."

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Wober explained that he would "put on a mask" when training to feign happiness before returning home to watch movies, sleep on the couch and order takeaways so that he didn't need to leave his home.

He said: "I was not strong enough to open up to anybody, it was an awful time for me. I met my agent and he realised I wasn't feeling well so gave me a contact of someone I could speak to.

"When you're in this situation you always feel you're strong enough to deal with it yourself and it will go away, it's pretty tough to deal with it yourself. The moment I started to speak about things and open up it was a relief. It came out like a waterfall."

The star, whose mental health is now "really good", called on sportspeople across the board and the general public to open up about mental health and facilitate the type of conversations that helped him recover.

He added: "Without opening up, I wouldn't be a footballer anymore. It's not only footballers, it's everywhere in every profession. It's important it's allowed in society to speak about it."

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