Fulham defender Tim Ream cited his struggle after fracturing his arm to tell young people that anxiety can affect even professional footballers, during a Q&A for mental health awareness week last week.

The American international, an athlete ambassador for his Virtual Soccer Schools initiative, teamed up with Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta for a session with schoolchildren and told his audience that even a star of his experience can still struggle with confidence during moments of trauma.

Ream said:

“Mental health issues still affect us. We’re still human beings. My most recent example is I broke my arm almost three weeks ago. I was playing in a match against Manchester City and immediately after being taken off, in the ambulance to the hospital my first thought was ‘is this serious and is this going to end or be a problem for my career and my ability to play?

And as I get that thought in my head, other thoughts spiral and you start to think ‘is this the end of my career?’, ‘Am I going to be out so long I’ll miss the end of the season?’, ‘am I going to miss pre-season?’, ‘am I going to be able to run soon to stay fit?’ Speaking about the feeling you had to friends and family is the easiest way [to solve it]. But then realising a broken bone is just a little bit of change and you just have to let it heal.”

Ream’s honesty will hopefully make a difference with thousands of young people up and down the country realising that even their heroes struggle with their emotional wellbeing. The Fulham centre half follows in the footsteps of Joe Bryan, who was praised for his bravery in opening up about his own mental health struggles two years ago.