Depression is no longer a taboo subject in football, but it is still a stigmatized disease - as it is in society as a whole. It is all the more remarkable how openly Niklas Schmidt deals with his mental problems. In winter, the Bundesliga professional from Werder Bremen went public with his mental problems. "I had big mental problems," said the 25-year-old at the time.
In a recent interview with "Spiegel", Schmidt explained in more detail how he dealt with his depression and how his teammates reacted to his illness. He told his teammates about it in the team kitchen: "I just said to them: 'Guys, I'm sorry, I can't go on anymore.' Then my tears flowed." All of his teammates then hugged him and comforted him. "They didn't have to do that," says Schmidt.
The midfielder was promoted to the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen last season and scored his first goal in his first game of the season – in a 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund. After that, however, "it went downhill relatively quickly," says Schmidt: "At home I withdrew more and more, didn't feel like going out the door or seeing other people. After training, I just wanted to sleep." He's lost his joy. During this phase, his girlfriend helped him to realize that he was suffering from depression.
He informed his coach Ole Werner about his problems in October. "I can't do it anymore," he said to the coach, Schmidt said in the "Spiegel" interview. Apparently, the footballer had no reservations about his mental illness: "My coach and my teammates showed me absolute understanding from the start and didn't treat me any differently than before." Schmidt was out for four games, in the last game before the winter break he was back on the pitch for ten minutes. In total, he has played 20 games for Werder Bremen this Bundesliga season.
Because of his depression, Niklas Schmidt even thought about quitting professional football, he said in early March on the “Sportblitz” program on Radio Bremen: “To end your career abruptly, the impulse wasn’t there. But the considerations were there, it was do." He himself has had good experiences with dealing openly with the disease and would like to encourage other affected people: "I want to tell people that there is no shame and that you can live with it."
Sources: "Spiegel" (paid content) / "Sportblitz"