West Ham star Michail Antonio opens up on his mental health struggles and fighting depression

West Ham star Michail Antonio has had to fight mental health to become a success with the Irons.

West Ham striker Michail Antonio reveals he almost retired from football at the peak of his mental health struggles. The 32-year-old said he suffered from confidence issues and almost went to the club to ask for his contract to be terminated after he signed for the Hammers.

Former boss Slaven Bilic brought Antonio to east London but his start to life had been inconsistent with Antonio being made to play at full back, midfield before settling into his striking role. He has since scored 66 goals in 248 appearances for the Hammers but admits it could all have gone downhill when he was battling mental health.

Michail Antonio of West Ham United celebrates with teammate Declan Rice after scoring their team’s third (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The Jamaican international told Living Miserable Under the Surface podcast: “I’m a person that likes to control things – if I feel that I can control things then I’ll deal with things. But this time when it did hit me, I felt like I fell into a depression.

“I started the very first game of the season. The next game, I wasn’t in the squad. The next game, I started. The next game, I wasn’t in the squad. Then I came off the bench. The next game I started and got pulled off at half-time. And that just kept happening.

“Even if I was playing well, it just kept happening to me. No matter what I was doing, I wasn’t good enough. If I was having a great game, it wasn’t good enough. So I just felt powerless, and there was nothing I could do.

“’There was one day where that kept happening to me, and I was just laying in bed and tears started streaming from my eyes and I couldn’t control them. I don’t like showing emotion and I like dealing with things, but tears were just falling from my eyes in bed.

“I’m a very positive person and if something is not making me happy but making me sad, then change it.

‘I said to her ‘I don’t know if I want to play anymore, I’m thinking about retiring’, because I knew if I went to West Ham and said I want to leave, they weren’t going to want to sell me.

Me talking to my Mrs, my brother and my agent took a bit of the weight off me, enough for me to keep going to training and stuff like that, but what really made a difference for me was being able to go out there and play, and kept playing consistently.

‘It became more of a norm as a footballer – when you’re playing well you get your opportunity and you keep playing. When life and football became more normal, then I dealt with it and that’s how I managed to pull myself out.Football put me into depression, but football also pulled me out.”