Cheltenham Town defender Ben Tozer put on a man-of-the-match performance against Premier League giants Manchester City in the Fourth Round of the Emirates FA Cup back in January.
However, there wasn’t to be a fairytale ending for the Robins, as the Pep Guardiola powerhouse scored three goals in the closing 10 minutes of the game to progress, coming back from a goal down after Alfie May found the net just before the hour mark.
Tozer’s display in that game was widely recognised by the three former professionals providing analysis that evening, but things haven’t always been about Premier League teams and perfect performances for the defender.
Speaking to Mark Clemmit on the Official EFL Podcast, Tozer revealed that he had suffered with anxiety and depression earlier in his career, and says although you might not see it at times, there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel.
“It’s only when I think back and talk about it that I realise how much of a bad place I was in. It wasn’t pretty, I was pretty low,” he said.
“I’m actually very grateful and glad I’ve been through that situation, as strange as that sounds. I think it’s not only made me a better person, but I also appreciate everything in life much more.
“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Anxiety had never played a part in my life before, but I’m glad I’ve been through it and understand it. To have come through everything to be where I am now, I’m in an unbelievable place and long may it continue.”
New research into men’s mental health suggests that, while some progress has been made, men feel worried or low more regularly than 10 years ago and are consequently twice as likely to feel suicidal.
Tozer has reinforced that message, that it is okay to talk, and says without speaking to someone about his personal difficulties, his life could have turned out completely differently.
“As blokes, we shrug things off. If someone’s coming off a bit negative, people tend to walk away from it and say ‘I don’t need that negativity’, and that’s the moment when you need to ask if everything is okay.
“Having been to a counsellor, someone who didn’t know much about football but knew what made me feel how I felt, was incredible really.
“I didn’t like the first couple of sessions but it then became normal and I told them things I’d never told anyone, it makes you understand why you’re thinking the way that you are.”