Chris Kirkland – Going Through The Emotions

2 months ago   |   Words: Caoimhe O'Neill

Former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland walked away from professional football in 2016, having spent 17 seasons at clubs including Coventry City, Liverpool, Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday. He has since spoken publicly on his decision to retire from the game due to anxiety. In turn Chris has become one of the leading voices of mental health and wellbeing in football. Kirkland hasn’t altogether hung up his gloves – now coaching for Liverpool F.C Women as well as running his own academy for young goalkeepers. We caught up with Chris to ask about his favourite save, advice for goalies under pressure, his perfect day and more.

Hi Chris, you’ve just become the new goalkeeping coach for Liverpool Ladies, how are you getting on in your new role?

I’m loving the new role at Liverpool F.C Women. I was waiting for the right opportunity to come up and as I do a lot with Liverpool Football Club already, being a supporter and former player, this was perfect for me.

In 2001 you signed for Liverpool from Coventry City. Looking back, what advice would you give to your 20-year-old self to help stay in a good frame of mind?

When I was younger it wasn’t an issue, all I wanted to do was play football. It wasn’t until I got into my 30s that I started to struggle mentally. So, I wish there was help around back then at the clubs I was at because no doubt I would have sought professional help.

Who was your sporting idol when you were growing up?

My sporting idol was Steve Ogrizovic at Coventry City. Just seeing the way he trained and how he handled himself on and off the pitch, I learnt a lot from him and we still speak regularly to this day.

What was the most memorable save you made?

My most memorable save was against Nicolas Anelka at Chelsea for Wigan. I managed to scramble and lean back to tip a header over the bar at an important time of the game.

Goalkeepers can be highly scrutinised by fans and the media for their performances. Loris Karius being a recent example. Porto’s Iker Casillas defended the young German by uploading a highlights reel of his own mistakes in solidarity. What is the best advice you received during your playing days?

Keepers will make mistakes, always have, always will, just forget about it and save the next one.

What would you say to any goalkeeper playing under this level of pressure?

You have to try and switch off away from football. Family life is vitally important and the most important thing is if you are happy off the pitch you are happy on it and vice-versa.

As an ex-professional footballer physical activity was obviously a big part of your daily routine. What does your exercise regime consist of today?

I’m still very active. I power walk with my dog most days for 6 miles, I go the gym 3-4 times a week, play golf and obviously the GK training at Liverpool and my academy keeps me very active.

What are you listening to or watching at the moment?

I listen to all chart music and country music. We are watching Shooter on Netflix at the minute.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

I’ve learnt that times can seem unbelievably hard but if you talk through your problems there is a way out if you want it enough and obviously how important my wife, daughter, friends and dog are to me.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Perfect day would be an early morning walk with my dog, a nice bacon butty for breakfast, go out somewhere with my family and then cook a big roast for tea.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I’m most grateful for still being here and having a great family and friends.


Tyson Fury details his battle with depression

3 weeks ago   |   Words: Wes Pilgrimage

“The worst thing someone suffering with their mental health can do is get into drugs and alcohol” said heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury in his candid interview with podcast host Joe Rogan this week.

Talking to Rogan ahead of his upcoming WBC title fight with Deontay Wilder on December 1, the 6ft 8 Mancunian opened up about his battle with depression and 2016 suicide attempt.

“I was waking up and I did not want to be alive,” Fury said. “Nobody could talk any sense into me at all and I felt very low.

“I had just bought a brand new car – a Ferrari convertible in summer 2016 – and I was on the motorway. At the bottom of about a five-mile stretch, there is a massive bridge and I got the car up to 190mph and did not care about anyone.

“I didn’t care about nothing, I just wanted to die.”

But Fury revealed how the thought of leaving behind his wife and children made him pull over.

With the help of a psychiatrist, Fury is back where he belongs, living a healthy life and fulfilling his ambitions.

Ending the interview in fighting spirits. Fury warned his upcoming opponent: “You’ve fought the Europeans and you’ve fought the Americans, but you’ve ain’t never fought the Gypsy King before!”

Fury’s response to his depression is a common one. The NHS state: “When life is getting them down, some people try to cope by drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs. This can result in a spiral of depression.

Cannabis can help you relax, but there’s evidence that it can also bring on depression, particularly in teenagers.

“Drowning your sorrows” with a drink is also not recommended. Alcohol is categorised as a “strong depressant”, which actually makes depression worse.”

To get help with depression or suicidal thoughts call Samaritans on 116 123 24 hours, 7 days a week or visit

There are also many services available in our ‘find help‘ section on our homepage.

THUMPER – Going Through The Emotions

3 weeks ago   |   Words: Natalie Lorimer

The clue is pretty much in the name with THUMPER. Earning a reputation as one of Ireland’s most exciting live acts, the noise-pop quintet unleash a whirlwind of frenzied energy both live and in the studio. Combining the best bits of rock, pop, and grunge to create a sound in which howling feedback and pounding rhythm mix harmoniously with pop hooks, THUMPER are an exercise in unpredictability. We caught up with frontman, Oisin Furlong, to chat about the process of growth, The Blindboy Podcast, and mental health in the Irish music industry. 

What are you working on at the moment?

We just brought out a single called ‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’ which is part of an EP we’re releasing in November called ‘Out of Body Auto-Message.’ The whole thing was produced by Dan Fox from Girl Band, and it’s a body of work we’re really proud of.

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

Severe depression and anxiety hit me in my teens, and reared its head again in my early twenties. The public mental health sector in Ireland at the time was pretty threadbare but I did manage to get professional help and learn to unlearn negative thinking patterns. Overcoming issues with your mental health is more of a process than an event, but continued mindfulness has always been key for me.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

When you’re younger, you think that there will come a moment at some point in your twenties when you arrive as a “grown up.” I guess the one thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that we are always in a perpetual state of growth, and that’s the way it’s going to be for a long time! I’m not the same person I was last month, let alone last year.

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

Being with friends, creating something just for the sake of it (music, food, conversation), comfort in the familiar, excitement in something new.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

I feel so grateful that I latched on to music as an outlet so early on. It has given endless joy and direction to my life. I also feel truly grateful to have found so many like-minded souls to play music with.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

I’m listening to records by Idles, Bodega & Kojaque on a fairly continuous rotation at the moment, and I’m currently switching between reading ‘And The Ass Saw The Angel’ by Nick Cave, and Carrie Brownstein’s autobiography ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.’

I also just finished the most recent season of Bojack Horseman, which is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

Ace mental health doesn’t mean never feeling anxious or low. Ace mental health for me means not being overwhelmed by these feelings, and recognising that life is ups and downs, good times and bad.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I stopped eating meat about three years ago, which helped a lot as I had to start paying attention to what I was putting in my body. It’s hard to stay healthy when you’re gigging or touring a lot, but when at home I do try to get a decent breakfast and eat plenty of fruit during the day. I have a bad habit of not eating anything all day and then stuffing my face at three in the morning, which I don’t advise.

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

Does loading amps in and out of venues count? We were gigging so much during the summer that any semblance of an exercise routine fell apart, but I’ll get back on it for winter – promise!

Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground everyday and loving it – can you share a similar memory?

I wasn’t the most athletic kid, but I did win a school-wide basketball tournament when I was about ten. A proud moment for sure. I also remember being very invested in nailing the Cha Cha Slide, though I didn’t pursue dancing in any sort of professional capacity…

What three songs lift your spirits?

Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song – Jeffrey Lewis
All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

I’ve never really responded to self-help books, or any kind of universal school of thought when it comes to mental health because I do believe everyone’s journey is unique, but I find it inspiring to hear individual stories of overcoming hard times.

The Blindboy Podcast is a great example of this, because he doesn’t prescribe any method but simply discusses his own journey to wellness, and what worked for him. I guess I empathised with his story because he’s also a performer (with the Rubber Bandits), and someone you would imagine is a massive extrovert, which couldn’t be further from the truth.  

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

Sometimes life is overwhelming, but making a point of noticing the good things you have is key to a balanced outlook. That said, emotions like grief and anger are sometimes healthy and normal reactions, so letting yourself feel these things and accepting them is sometimes the key to overcoming what life throws at you.

You recently played a show as part of the Hard Working Class Heroes showcase, which also featured a conference discussion on the importance of promoting good mental health within the Irish music industry. Would you like to see this topic more widely discussed by fellow musicians?

Increasingly the discussion on mental health in the music industry is coming to the fore in Ireland, which is great because even five years ago it wasn’t really talked about. It’s bizarre terrain to navigate as a performer because ultimately you have to balance the person you are offstage with the person who exists the rest of the time. Leaving a pound of flesh on stage after every gig can have its consequences if your mental health isn’t up to scratch. 

Lucy Spraggan – Going Through The Emotions

3 weeks ago   |   Words: Natalie Lorimer

Lucy Spraggan provided a breath of fresh air when she appeared on The X Factor in 2012, challenging the format with her unique brand of pop infused folk. Her songwriting helped her stand out amongst the years contestants, with songs ‘Last Night’ and ‘Tea and Toast’ finding humour and candid emotion in everyday scenarios. Now, with four albums behind her, Lucy continues to evolve her signature musical style and tours relentlessly to bring her songs to her loyal fanbase. We caught up with Lucy to chat about her new single which continues vital conversations about male suicide.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

I am listening to Lana Del Rey – her ‘Born To Die’ album – because it’s iconic! I’m reading ‘Goodbye, Paris’ which is the American version of my mum’s newly published book, and I’m going to watch ‘A Star Is Born’ tomorrow as I’m in love with Lady Gaga.

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

I think at my darkest time in life I really struggled with my own thoughts. I got into a pretty terrible place and really had to pull myself out of it. The first part of that was letting my friends and family know how I was feeling – that was a pretty hard moment, but I was so much better for it.

Your new single ‘Stick The Kettle On’ was written in support of charity CALM to raise awareness of male suicide. What do you think are the pressures on young men?

There are too many pressures to list. Guys are expected to be this macho, indestructible superhero from pretty much late childhood ‘til the rest of time. Men are seen as providers, which isn’t always the case. They are pressured to look a certain way, to feel certain things, to be a certain sexuality, to not talk about their feelings in case they seem “weak.”

What help do you feel is out there?

There is help down many different avenues, but I know firsthand that reaching out to take that help is incredibly hard. At my lowest time I saw text services, phone numbers, email and online help but just couldn’t bring myself to go there. Looking back I’m not sure why I felt like that. There are so many important helplines and charities that are doing amazing things, I just feel like we need to normalise using them a bit more.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

My best asset is my perseverance.

What would constitute a perfect day for you?

My wife, my dog, some autumnal weather, and our VW camper. Probably somewhere we could see the sea.

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

Being and feeling alive.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

Ace mental health for me means that everything else will come naturally.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

Fruit and vegetables, fresh fish… Cakes, scones, chocolate…

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

I use a little timer app and rotate through several exercises. I find it useful to have a countdown as I lose interest quickly!

Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground every day and loving it – can you share a similar memory?

We used to run the cold tap and see who could keep their hand under it the longest. Weirdos.

What three songs lift your spirits?

Delicate – Taylor Swift

American Pie – Don McLean

There’s a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis – Kirsty MacColl

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” by Oscar Wilde.

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

Take a break, find someone you trust, sit down and have a chat. You never know what might come out.

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