Keith Gillespie

UTD Podcast: The importance of discussing mental health

Saturday 04 July 2020 22:30

Keith Gillespie has spoken of the importance of discussing mental health, especially amongst young men.

The former Manchester United man, who suffered from a gambling addiction during his playing days, says spreading the message that it’s okay to talk about mental health issues could help countless men in society.

Speaking on the latest episode of UTD Podcast, which is available from Monday, Keith was keen to point out that just because someone may seem fine, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is the case.
“Mental health was not a topic back then [when I was a player],” the Northern Irishman said during the podcast. “It was a few years after that it became a topic that people were becoming more aware of and talking about.

“As men, we’re a little bit different to women in that we do keep things in. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - I’ve actually read that book and there’s so much truth in that. The macho thing is there, that means you do keep a lot of things in.
“I think now it is something that people want to talk about and make you aware of because of stuff that has happened.

“You only have to look at Gary Speed, who I played with at Newcastle and Sheffield United. Speedo was an absolutely brilliant character and you had no idea behind the scenes what was going on. So it is very important that the message is out there that it’s good to talk.”
“Everyone thinks that a footballer’s lifestyle is glamorous and big money but everyone is made in different ways and has different thoughts in their head. So it is important to have that message out there and have the right people around you and the right support.”

Keith went on to explain some of the problems he encountered during his playing days, and why a lack of a support system ultimately resulted in his gambling addiction.
“When I moved to Newcastle, the first five months I was living in a hotel,” he recalled. “You finish training at 12:30 and the rest of the day is your own. The rest of the players have got wives, families, kids to go home to. I go back to an empty hotel room, so my afternoons were always in the bookies.
Keith came through the United Academy as part of the renowned 'Class of '92' side.
“I was 20 years of age. I was still very young and very naive. That was just a way of life for me; training or else I was gambling. Training and playing football was, for me, a relief away from the gambling.”
In an attempt to offer support for those experiencing similar problems, in 2013 Gillespie published his autobiography: ‘How Not to be a Football Millionaire’.

“It can be beneficial to people who struggle with gambling to see that I struggled with it and have come out the other side,” he said. “You want to be helping people. I’ve had so many messages from people saying how it’s really helped them. It was tough to write.”

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