Portsmouth defender Jack Whatmough has opened up about his struggles dealing with the injury that kept him out of action for almost a year, stating it put him in a “dark place”.
The 23-year-old made his long awaited first-team return on Tuesday night for Pompey in the team’s Leasing.com trophy quarter-final win against Scunthorpe United at Fratton Park, featuring for the full ninety minutes without any issues.
Whatmough’s time out during 2019 was the third time in four years he spent a lengthy period on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Speaking to BBC Radio Solent’s Andrew Moon, Whatmough discussed how the injury negatively affected his psychological state.
“You go into a dark place and do things that are out of character,” he said, adding that he turned to gambling and alcohol as ways to cope.
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“There were things I probably shouldn’t have been doing.”
The 23-year-old said he was grateful for the support of his family and close friends during a difficult time, as well as the Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA).
“We’re very lucky to have the PFA with us. I had about five weeks of speaking with them, which was a massive help.”
However, for Whatmough, things are now looking up.
The 23-year-old was delighted featuring for the full length of Pompey’s win over Scunthorpe, which sees the club just one win away from a second Wembley final in succession as they look to defend their crown.
“Ninety minutes completed is a milestone ticked off and one that, 11 and a half months ago, I was waiting desperately to do,” he said.
Being frank and open about struggling to cope with a debilitating long-term injury is a brave thing for Whatmough to do, and it makes his successful return all the more impressive.
His admissions about his off-field personal issues could get more high profile stars to discuss their own problems, which can be a good way of breaking down the stigma of mental health in football.
Now, the 23-year-old can focus on nailing down a starting position for Portsmouth in the coming weeks as his side continue their push for promotion.
That continues this Saturday, as Portsmouth take on Barnsley in the fourth round of the FA Cup.