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Craig Bellamy steps down as Anderlecht’s assistant coach to prioritise mental health

13 Sep 2021 3 minutes Read
Craig Bellamy. By Jon Candy (CC 2.0)

Craig Bellamy has stepped down as Anderlecht’s assistant coach to prioritise his mental health.

The former Wales international footballer is leaving the Belgian club, its manager Vincent Kompany has confirmed.

Bellamy originally joined the club as coach of the Anderlecht U21s, before stepping up to assist former Manchester City team-mate Vincent Kompany in the first-team set-up earlier this year.

The 42-year-old, who also played as a striker for Liverpool, Newcastle and Cardiff City, has previously spoken openly about his battle with depression.

A statement from Anderlecht Director of Sports Peter Verbeke read: “The enormous energy Craig has given us all is priceless.

“It is therefore logical that we must give him all the time and rest he needs. The whole club stands firmly behind him in this difficult period.”

Kompany said via Belgian outlet HLN : “Craig was a unique coach and person for us. He has been very important to us in the development of guys like [Jeremy] Doku, [Yari] Verschaeren, [Albert] Sambi [Lokonga], and so on.

“But now the monster of the depression is there again,” he sadly stated. “We need to give Craig time to make a full recovery. He set himself a date and did not meet it.

“Health is above football. Our door will always be open to him.”

Bellamy has received messages of support from Anderlecht players Jeremy Doku and Mario Stroeykens.

‘Spoke candidly’

In 2020, Bellamy spoke candidly about his depression, revealing he had been taking medication for the previous three years.

He discussed how his injury issues as a player had worsened his condition.

He told Sky Sports: “For the last three, four years I’ve been diagnosed with depression, I’m a man of depression,” he bravely admitted. “I can’t get away from that,”

“I’ve been medicated for three years and this is the first time I’ve ever spoken about it.”

He added: “I’ve had ridiculous highs and massive lows.

“The injuries didn’t help. The injuries were so, so difficult to try to overcome. I felt tortured. This wasn’t what I expected my football career to be like. I didn’t want to sprint, it hurt too much.”

He explained how his mental health was during his playing career which ended in 2014 at hometown club Cardiff.

“During my career my depression was worse, way worse, the emotional side… I’d come home and wouldn’t speak for three days,” he explained.

“I had a wife, young family and I literally wouldn’t talk. I would shut myself away in a room and then I would go to bed on my own. That was the only way I could deal with depression.

“Football’s only here a short time, that’s why you probably see a lot of footballers – more from our generation – do struggle with it.”

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