Everton winger Demarai Gray opens up on his battle with mental health in spells at Bayer Leverkusen and Leicester… as the Toffees star praises Rafa Benitez for getting him ‘enjoying football again’
- Demarai Gray has shared how he used to struggle with mental health problems
- The winger joined Bayer Leverkusen in 2021 following a tricky spell at Leicester
- Gray admitted he used to ‘suffer breakdowns’ during his time at the King Power
- He subsequently questioned his existence whilst at Leverkusen for six months
- Rafa Benitez helped bring the best out of Gray once he moved to Everton in 2021
Demarai Gray has opened up about the ‘toxic thoughts’ that consumed him during his time at Leicester and Bayer Leverkusen.
A former England youth prospect and Premier League winner with Leicester in 2016, Gray struggled to carve out a fruitful career at the King Power and subsequently moved to Germany in January 2021.
The 26-year-old stayed at Leverkusen for six months — before joining Everton on a free transfer in the summer — and has now confessed that he used to suffer from poor mental health before arriving at Goodison Park.
Demarai Gray has admitted that he used to ‘suffer breakdowns’ during his time at Leicester
‘I remember a time when I messaged my uncle and said, “What’s my purpose?”,’ Gray told The Athletic.
‘Do you know what I mean? Like, “What am I doing?”. Bad situations going on. Past traumas.
‘It’s a phase, a mental bubble where the toxic thoughts override and consume your thought process.’
Despite his struggles, Gray kept a lid on his feelings throughout his time at Leicester and Leverkusen.
The winger moved to Bayer Leverkusen in 2021 and continued to battle with his mental health
He explained: ‘I had low moments and low thoughts but no one would think it. I could have the lowest of low thoughts but you’d see me the next day and think, “Dimi’s cool, Dim’s just Dim”.
‘When you get into those lows it’s like a devil trying to get in your head and make you think negatively about life.’
Towards the end of his five-year spell at Leicester, the winger was starting to lose hope of breaking into the first team and has revealed he used to break down as a result.
The 26-year-old has emerged a pivotal player for Everton under Frank Lampard this campaign
Gray continued: ‘I’d suffer breakdowns. You hit the point where inside you feel like you’ve got nothing left mentally.’
‘Going to training, getting through sessions like I’m not even there. I’m there, obviously, but it’s like I’m not present. My mind is elsewhere.’
After moving to Everton, Gray forged an excellent relationship with ex-Toffees boss Rafa Benitez, who controversially took over at Goodison Park having formerly managed archrivals Liverpool.
The Everton star admitted he played some of his best football under Benitez, mainly because the Spaniard believed in him.
Gray is ‘grateful’ to former Toffees head coach Rafa Benitez for showing faith in him at Everton
Gray said: ‘I’m grateful for him. He had faith in me, he wanted me at the club, he made that clear and I think for any player, first and foremost, it’s who you’re playing for and what the manager wants and thinks of you.
‘I enjoyed my time with him. He is a good guy… loves to talk! He’s a passionate man. I played some of my best football under him.
‘He gave me a sense of freedom and made me feel a valuable member of the squad. That was important for someone like me and the way I am as a player.’
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