Vinnie Jones claims footballers have become ‘rockstars’ as he talks on the burdens they face in the modern game… and opens up on his own mental health struggles that left him ‘feeling numb’

Throughout his playing career, Vinnie Jones became synonymous with crunching tackles, a no-nonsense attitude and the typical ‘hard man’ persona.

However, in the present day, the only battle that the former Chelsea and Wimbledon midfielder is looking to win is that with mental health.

Having made the transition from the pitch to the big screen – and partaking in film ventures such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and The Gentlemen – Jones has become familiar with the eventual burdens associated with success.

Speaking exclusively to Mail Sport, he explained: ‘When you first start, you know, it’s quite nice because there’s no pressure and there’s no expectations. 

‘And it’s the same as when players start playing you know – like when Rooney started. There’s no expectations on them. 

Vinnie Jones has opened up on his battles with mental health as part of a new campaign

The Wimbledon and Chelsea legend sat down to discuss the burdens that players can face

The Wimbledon and Chelsea legend sat down to discuss the burdens that players can face 

Jones was known as football's 'hard man' but he's since adopted a new outlook on life

Jones was known as football’s ‘hard man’ but he’s since adopted a new outlook on life

‘But I said to somebody yesterday, you know, we build them right up and so there’s only one way they can go a lot of the time – which is f***ing fall off. You know? 

‘And it’s the same with the football fans, it’s not just the footballers – let’s not get mistaken. We’ve got people that go and watch the games that have got just as many struggles in life as these professional footballers. 

‘Some professional footballers are on £200,000-a-week and there might be people with the same issues on £200-a-week. The problem is still the same.’ 

Having made over 500 appearances throughout his playing career, Jones never shirked away from the limelight – which explains why he later moved to acting. 

However, even he admits that the modern day footballer faces challenges that he never used to and, due to this, he encourages players and fans alike to talk more. 

Jones continued: ‘Nowadays, these young footballers now are rockstars. When young kids and adults now go and watch a football match, it’s like going to watch a concert. 

‘Whether it’s Queen, or The Who or Madonna, or whoever it is, when they go to a game on a Saturday, that’s their release. That’s their happy time, you know, and these lads now are rockstars! So, I think the clubs now are doing a lot more.

‘In my day and age, this kind of advice wasn’t out there. You know, we dealt with everything as young men on our own. We didn’t talk.

Jones argued that modern footballers - like Jude Bellingham - have become akin to 'rockstars'

Jones argued that modern footballers – like Jude Bellingham – have become akin to ‘rockstars’

Jones offered advice to four of Chelsea's players as part of a campaign with the Samaritans

Jones offered advice to four of Chelsea’s players as part of a campaign with the Samaritans

‘Fash (John Fashanu) was my room partner and we never spoke about things, we sort of kept it bottled up, you know. So I think it’s great that myself and Tyson Fury are leading the way to say to blokes: ‘You know, the real men can talk about things’. 

While Jones may have shied away from discussing his own experiences back in the day, presently, the 59-year-old admits he’s come a long way in his own mental health journey.

‘I took myself off, 11 years ago, to go and see somebody. I paid a professor in LA to have a chat with me – I done it off my own back. 

‘So I think that in the workplace, for the supporters and fans, as well as in the football clubs, there should be people there they can go to. They are in prisons!

‘I had to go and have a chat with a psychologist and it was like throwing a big canvas bag off my back’.

Jones admitted that his drinking habits led to him 'feeling numb' throughout his playing career

Jones admitted that his drinking habits led to him ‘feeling numb’ throughout his playing career

Elaborating further on what drove him to speak to a professional, Jones said: ‘I was just getting into so much bother with drinking. Why was I drinking like that? Because I wasn’t really a drinker growing up. 

‘I just got into that cult state in the 90s, you know. It was only the year after I left Chelsea, they brought some Italians in and all that and [Dennis] Wisey said to me: ‘You can’t believe the difference in cultures.’

‘Me and Wisey ran the players’ lounge at Chelsea and they closed it down within a year! The Italians thought it was madness. 

‘But I think that was a way for us to just numb everything. Everything was numb.’

Three is encouraging football fans up and down the country to share Vinnie’s ‘team talk’, across their social and support networks. To find out more about #TalkMoreThanFootball and to watch Vinnie’s team talk in full go to Three’s social channels – @ThreeUK on Instagram, @ThreeUK on X, @ThreeUK on TikTok or Three UK on YouTube.

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