Tom Thorpe on his mental health struggles and 5 years away from football

Tom Thorpe was a product of Manchester United’s youth academy and a promising defender, winning the under-17s Milk Cup (now SuperCupNI). He spoke to BBC Sport about his difficulty with mental health in his career and how they resulted in a 5-year absence from the game. Here he is recalling the moments after his 94th minute appearance against West Ham in September 2014:

“Going back into the changing room, I was overjoyed,” Thorpe said. He remembers manager Louis van Gaal giving him a pat on the cheek and saying “you’re welcome”. But it made him feel like he had “been gifted the opportunity, rather than earning it through hard work”.

I keep seeing stories like this more frequently and it’s very unfair that clubs can generate all these players and then just.. spit them out. It’s good that there are organisations like Sporting Chance but clubs have a responsibility to care for their players during and after they’re let go in my opinion. It’s not like they don’t have the money or connections.

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