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    France World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard bravely opens up on battle with depression during lockdown

    BAYERN MUNICH and France star Benjamin Pavard has bravely opened up on his battle with depression.The 26-year-old first began to struggle mentally during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    Benjamin Pavard has bravely opened up on his struggles with depressionCredit: Getty
    Pavard lifted the World Cup with France in 2018Credit: Getty – Contributor
    At the time Pavard was still in his first season at Bayern, and being stuck on his own away from his home country saw him became “not well”.
    The Bundesliga was first halted in late February due to the pandemic, and did not return until May.
    And the 2018 World Cup winner, who won goal of the tournament for his famous strike against Argentina, has detailed his struggles in an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien.
    Pavard revealed that he knew something had to be done when he headed to training without a smile on his face.
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    He said: “It was difficult for everyone, for me too. To be alone, in a country other than mine, I was really not well. In my head, something was wrong.
    “At the beginning, you tell yourself that it’s nothing, that it will pass, but when you see that it persists, that you go to training and that you don’t have a smile on your face, you have to react.”
    Pavard admitted that maintaining contact with family and friends was crucial during the lonely periods of lockdown.
    He added: “I am human like everyone else, and even if I have a super nice house with a weight room, I needed contact with others.
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    If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 116123.
    “I got up, I had no appetite. I tried to keep busy, to cook, to watch series. But Netflix is ​​fine for two minutes… I don’t like the word depressive, but that was the case.”
    Fortunately Pavard’s mental struggles have improved as the world has grown used to living with Covid.
    He concluded: “I came out of all this as a man, it changed me. I was on my own like many football players and I had to surround myself well to raise my head.
    “I managed to bounce back from difficult times.”
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    On the pitch the right-back has continued to be an important player for club and country, despite his mental struggles.
    And he will be hoping to help France to more World Cup glory when the tournament kicks off in Qatar later this year.
    Contact the Samaritans
    If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact The Samaritans on 116 123. They are available for free at anytime.
    Or email https://www.samaritans.org/

    Pavard joined Bayern Munich from Stuttgart in 2019Credit: Getty More

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    ‘I had to sack 55 staff, only to find out I was the 56th’ – Raul Sanllehi opens up on Arsenal exit after pandemic hell

    FORMER Arsenal chief Raul Sanllehi has opened up on his struggles working at Arsenal during the coronavirus pandemic.The former head of football, 56, also admitted that he doesn’t hold it against owners – The Kroenkes.
    Sanllehi was Arsenal’s head of football until 2020 before the pandemic took holdCredit: Getty – Contributor
    The pandemic saw Sanllehi lay off 55 members of staff at Arsenal, before being axed himself.
    Sanllehi, who is now director at Spanish second division side Real Zaragoza, told The Athletic about how “everything fell apart” for him in London.
    He said: “I loved it at Arsenal. You cannot imagine — the people in the club, the history of the club.
    “I really felt I was at the top of the world there. I love the owners, the Kroenkes. But the last 10 months there were horrible. I had to lay off 55 people, without knowing I was the 56th.”
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    “I don’t feel betrayed by the Kroenkes.
    “The Kroenkes had the LA Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, and all of a sudden, all those teams could not play [due to lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic].
    “You still had to pay the salaries. You did not have guaranteed broadcasting revenues.
    “They entered into panic, but a logical panic, as the world entered into panic. Without Covid, I am sure I would still be there, as my relationship with the Kroenkes was great.
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    “It is funny now, but I remember in December 2019, I had dinner with the four guys: Mikel Arteta, Edu, Huss Fahmy and Per Mertesacker.
    “On the toast, I said, ‘Now, it is on us. Now it is exactly the model I asked for. If it does not work, we have no excuses’.
    “That team for me was a dream team at that time. Then in March, everything just fell apart. It was sad.”
    Sanllehi even claimed he would have NEVER have made Arteta manager of the Gunners.
    The Spaniard reckons the appointment “betrayed the model” in place at the Emirates, and Arteta should have stayed on as head coach.
    After joining in December 2019, Arteta’s role changed from head coach to first-team manager the following September, shortly after Sanllehi left the club.
    He added: “I do not agree when clubs call the first-team coach the manager.
    “First-team coach is first-team coach, that is enough. Nowadays, the workload is overwhelming, and I need him to concentrate on the first team.
    “Anything that distracts you from that is not your responsibility — travel arrangements, the pitch, salary budget, medical department.
    “We will get other people to do that. The first-team coach is short-term oriented — just win tonight’s game.
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    “They have betrayed the model a little bit now. By going back to the manager at the top, that is a mistake, but that is their mistake.
    “I would have not allowed that to happen. But that’s fine, it is working so far for them.”  More

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    Harry Redknapp reveals how he feared for wife Sandra after serious bout of Covid left her barely able to breathe

    HARRY Redknapp has revealed how he feared for his wife Sandra after a serious attack of Covid left her barely able to breathe.The ex-football manager says Sandra could not talk and had to communicate with people by writing notes as well as having a problem swallowing which he feared could lead to her choking.
    Harry Redknapp has revealed how he feared for his wife Sandra after a serious attack of Covid left her barely able to breatheCredit: The Sun
    Former I’m A Celeb winner, Harry, 75, said: “The symptoms weren’t good, if I’m truthful.
    “You start to think about all kinds of sinister things. It’s been a real worry.
    “Sandra has suffered. Her voice had packed up and she was struggling for breath.
    “Even swallowing food became difficult. She could choke on food easily if we weren’t careful.”
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    The virus attacked pre-existing problems with Sandra’s vocal cords.
    Thankfully, she is on the mend – and national treasure Harry is fighting fit too.
    Former hairdresser Sandra was laid low with Covid in January after a New Year’s Eve visit to a restaurant.
    She said: “I think Covid attacked previous surgery that I’d had on my neck.
    “You don’t realise what your vocal cords do until they’re not working, because it affects breathing as well as talking.
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    “The shortness of breath was very difficult. My voice would vibrate and was very weak.”
    Sandra added she struggled for around seven months as the couple attempted to work on a new book, When Harry Met Sandra, which will be released this week. More

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    Tyson Fury’s hero cut man – who saved career in Wallin fight – was sent money by Gypsy King during Covid pandemic

    TYSON FURY sent money to the hero cutman who saved his career during the Otto Wallin fight during the Coronavirus pandemic.Jorge Capetillo was thrust into the spotlight when Fury suffered a horrendous cut above his right eye back in September 2019.
    Tyson Fury suffered a horrendous cut against Otto Wallin that needed 47 stitches in afterwardsCredit: AP:Associated Press
    The Gypsy King has credited cutman Jorge Capetillo for saving his careerCredit: EPA
    From the third round onwards on the way to a unanimous points win, Fury’s eye gushed blood with the ringside doctor even consulted as to whether it was safe for the Gypsy King to carry on.
    But thanks to Capetillo’s work on the horror gash, Fury battled through to secure a hard-fought win – and then had to have 47 stitches.
    The coronavirus lockdown saw Capetillo’s Las Vegas gym close and the Mexican admitted to having “empty pockets”.
    But Fury stepped in to help the man who set him on the path to WBC glory by battering Deontay Wilder to win the belt.
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    He is a great man, so humble. He had the time to ask how I was doing with my family during this crisisJorge CapetilloTyson Fury’s cutman
    Speaking to Sky Sports, Capetillo, who describes the cut as “the worst I’ve ever seen”, said: “He is still very grateful.
    “When he knew we were locked down because of Covid-19 and my gym was closed, he texted me and said: ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’
    “He is still taking care of me. He sent me money.
    “I was supposed to be with Jessie Vargas in New York on March 14 (2020) but the fight was cancelled and I came home with empty pockets.
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    “I was scared, I didn’t know what to do.
    “He knew Jessie’s fight was cancelled. He asked about my family and what he could do.
    “He said: ‘I’ll sort out some money for your family so you can be good’. Such generosity for me and my family.
    “He is a great man, so humble. He had the time to ask how I was doing with my family during this crisis.”
    Capetillo went on to describe how once he “controlled the bleeding” against Wallin he told Fury that “everything will be good”.
    And so it proved as the Wythenshawe-born fighter won comfortably on points, 116–112, 117–111, and 118–110.

    Fury then went on to destroy Wilder in February that year to win the one heavyweight belt he never had before.
    Her further cemented his dominance over the Bronze Bomber with a win in their trilogy fight.
    Currently, Fury is in talks to sign an epic contract to fight Anthony Joshua – although the bout is yet to be confirmed. More

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    Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka OUT of Germany Nations League clash against England with Covid

    MANUEL NEUER and Leon Goretzka are OUT of Germany’s Nations League against England with Covid. Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions host their arch rivals at Wembley on Monday.
    Manuel Neuer is out of Germany’s Nations League against England with CovidCredit: Rex
    Leon Goretzka joins Manuel Neuer is missing the matchesCredit: Reuters
    But Germany have suffered a squad setback following the news of Goretzka, 27, and Neuer’s absence.
    The Bayern Munich duo will also miss Friday’s match at home to Hungary as a result.
    Hoffenheim’s Oliver Baumann, 32, will replace keeper Neuer, 36, and while Dortmund’s Julian Brandt, 26, tested negative, he has also been withdrawn.
    Further call-ups will be announced in due course.
    England have also been hit by injury woe after Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips was forced to pull out due to a shoulder problem.
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    He was replaced by Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, 32, who has recovered from a knock quicker than anticipated.
    Henderson missed the last three games in all competitions for the Reds after struggling with a hamstring problem.
    His setback initially saw him fail to be named in the latest 28-man squad.
    But after Phillips, 26, was withdrawn, Southgate has turned to ex-Sunderland anchorman Henderson.
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    England play Italy in Milan’s San Siro – a rematch of the European Championship final.
    And England confirmed Henderson’s arrival in a statement.
    The decision was made to call-up Henderson after he came through a number of workout sessions over the weekend.
    Jordan Henderson training for EnglandCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun More

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    I got so anxious after Boris’ Covid alerts I blew family’s £160k house deposit betting on table tennis, says Paul Merson

    GAMBLING addict Paul Merson grew so anxious after Boris Johnson’s daily Covid updates  during lockdown  he visited an online bookie – and blew his family’s £160,000 deposit for a new home  betting on table tennis.The ex-Arsenal and England footballer had frittered away £7million on gambling, alcohol and drugs during his long years of addiction, but believed he had finally turned a corner and was in recovery.
    Paul Merson has frittered away £7million on gambling, alcohol and drugs during his long years of addictionCredit: BBC / Little Gem Media Ltd. / Ch
    During lockdown, Covid updates sent his anxiety through the roofCredit: Reuters
    It culminated in him betting on table tennis, losing £160,000 he and his wife Kate had saved up for a house depositCredit: AFP
    Then, in early 2020, the pandemic hit, and by August 27, Sky Sports Soccer Saturday pundit Paul had spent the entire deposit and was feeling suicidal.
    He has now revealed he is banned from all betting companies, and believes his third wife Kate will leave him if he relapses again.
    Speaking from his rented South West London home, the dad of eight told The Sun on Sunday: “I was on furlough from Sky Sports and at first I enjoyed the lockdown.
    “I was in the garden with my youngest kids and the sun was out. But then I started getting addicted to bulletins when Boris Johnson and the bloke with the red tie came out.
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    “My anxiety kicked in and I thought, ‘They’re not going to have Soccer Saturday any more’.
    “I was thinking, ‘I’m not going to be able to earn anything’. My older kids’ mums have houses and I want to give my younger kids a future.
    “Kate and I had £160,000 saved up and I blew it in a few bets. It was all online, but it wasn’t a bookmaker, it was a private bookie.”
    ‘WAGES GO TO MY WIFE’
    The only sports being played at the time were table tennis tournaments and golf.
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    Paul, 54, said: “My last bet was eight grand on a table tennis player. I didn’t have a particular knowledge of table tennis but everything was locked down at that point, so there wasn’t much to bet on.
    “When I got to that point it was just a total chase-up to try and get my money back, which is a prime example of a compulsive gambler.
    “That was my last eight grand but when I’m in the grip of it, I lose all sense of rationale.”
    He added: “I remember sitting in my front room and having suicidal thoughts and my kids were playing and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’ve just done everything in’.
    “That was eating me up for a week. At that moment I was just thinking, ‘What’s the point of me being here? What’s the point of me being on this earth? I’m just getting in the way, and I’ve let my kids down for the umpteenth time’.
    “I was looking at my children and I hadn’t even told their mum yet that I’d done the money. And when I told her she went ballistic.”
    Paul, whose first two marriages crumbled due to his addictions, was terrified he would lose the third. Yet despite her anger, Kate, whose maternal grandfather was also a gambler, forgave Paul, though she immediately took control of the family finances.
    Paul, who has 21 England caps, said: “My wages go to my wife and I have pocket money.
    “Now I thank God she’s in charge and I’m blocked from all betting companies, so I couldn’t gamble, even if I wanted to.”
    Since his relapse Paul has become an ambassador for addiction support app Recoverlution, which offers addicts the comfort of a 24/7 digital community.
    He said: “I know my addiction is waiting, and that does scare me. I got involved with this because I know that you can put off going to an Alcoholics Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous meeting if it’s raining or you’re tired.
    “With Recoverlution there’s no excuse, you’ve got your laptop or your iPhone or whatever. And it’s there 24/7 and connects to all around the world. I think that’s an important thing — you can get help in the middle of the night.”
    Paul joined Arsenal in 1985 and won two Football League Championships, an FA Cup, the Football League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with them.
    Paul believes his third wife Kate will leave him if he relapses againCredit: paulmerseofficial/instagram
    Paul is a pundit on Sky Sports’ Soccer SaturdayCredit: Getty
    Yet within years his addictions took control. He said: “I was playing for England and sitting in crack dens with a massive rock of coke.
    “People would come in to score, then do a double take and think, ‘No, it can’t be Paul Merson, can it?’
    “I’d be drinking at 5am after the nightclubs shut and snorting cocaine in the taxi on the way to Arsenal training. I tried to kill myself three times. Someone has looked out for me. I don’t go to church but I do believe in God.”
    A spell in rehab conquered Paul’s cocaine addiction but his gambling problem was still rampant by the time he joined Aston Villa in 1998.
    He said: “I once lost a top-of-the-range Rolex to a friend in a game of heads and tails when we were drunk in Spain. He took the watch and then got robbed. But you can’t have a bet and moan if you lose.
    “At Villa, me and David James went to the car show at the Birmingham NEC and I bought a Ferrari for £105,000.
    “I said to the guy, ‘I’ll give you cash on Tuesday’. But on the Monday I went to the bookies.
    “On Tuesday the Ferrari geezer got to the training ground and I just said, ‘I lost it. I ain’t got the money’.
    “Then I said, ‘Do us a favour, can I just have a little drive?’ and I went up the road and back. I actually didn’t like it because it had those Tiptronic (semi-automatic) gears. I dodged a bullet with that one.”
    Now Paul attends Gamblers Anonymous sessions, talks to an expert, uses the app — and has chocolate for comfort instead of drink.
    He said: “I’m a chocoholic. Or a pudding-aholic. I eat puddings, which I’ve never been interested in. That took up too much room for the drink, so it’s swings and roundabouts.
    “But my wife would rather me eat a bar of Dairy Milk in two seconds flat than not know when I’ll be home.”
    And Paul is determined not to relapse again. He said: “Kate would leave me, and I wouldn’t blame her.
    “I don’t think I’ve got another recovery in me. I’ve done it too many times.”
    EASY TO LOSE £300K IN A DAY
    PAUL worries about young footballers playing at the top level and betting.
    He said: “Among professional sportspeople it is an increasing problem. In Tony Adams’s treatment centre it used to be 70 per cent alcoholics and 30 per cent gamblers and now it’s the other way round. That shows you.
    Paul says: ‘In Tony Adams’s treatment centre it used to be 70 per cent alcoholics and 30 per cent gamblers and now it’s the other way round’Credit: Getty
    “Gambling affected my game more than the drinking. With drinking, people can see you.
    “These players on 100 grand a week, someone could drop 300 grand in a day and come into training. No one knows.
    “It’s very easy for a player to sit indoors and lose money. I’m talking about one or two per cent.”
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    England fans face pre-travel tests and vaccine passports to enter SHOPS as Qatar introduces tough Covid rules

    ENGLAND fans face pre-travel tests and need vaccine passports just to enter SHOPS at the World Cup after Qatar introduced new Covid rules.Supporters from around the globe will descend on the Middle East in November to watch their respective nations in action at the showpiece.
    England fans face more Covid protocol hassle to get to the World CupCredit: Getty
    Qatar have introduced a number of new Covid rulesCredit: AFP
    However, a new report from The Telegraph has detailed the full guidelines of what people need to do amid the rule change to enter the country for the World Cup.
    Regardless of vaccination status, all travellers to Qatar must now take a lab-certified Covid test before arriving.
    There are also a number of other pre-boarding requirements to complete.
    The report states that not only must you upload your NHS vaccine certificate and complete a passenger locator form, but it is compulsory to install Qatar’s Covid app, Ehteraz.
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    And there are even more rules to follow once you actually set foot in the country.
    Everyone must show their Ehteraz app before entering a shop or restaurant.
    Despite it being reportedly similar to the NHS version, another issue is getting internet access to use it.
    Doha allegedly has poor Wi-Fi networks, which need you to register beforehand and receive a security code to use, which means you may have to end up paying a “hefty” roaming charge.
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    Fortunately, Qatar has recently relaxed the strict mask-wearing rules regarding shopping and hospitality venues, although they are still needed on public transport.
    But all of the above still means more hassle on top of a pricey trip to Qatar for the showcase.
    England take on Italy and Germany later this month in Nations League clashes in their final matches before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar.
    The Three Lions will begin their campaign against Iran on November 21, with further group matches against the USA on November 25 and a clash with Wales four days later. More

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    Man Utd star Anthony Martial claims he played while injured for nearly TWO SEASONS as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ‘needed me’

    MANCHESTER UNITED ace Anthony Martial revealed he had been playing injured for two seasons because former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer “needed” him.Martial opened up about his struggles of getting back to full fitness after the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which led to him falling out with Solskjaer.
    Manchester United ace Anthony Martial revealed he played injured for two seasonsCredit: Getty
    Anthony Martial claims he continued playing because ex-Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed himCredit: Getty
    The forward was ultimately shipped out on loan to Sevilla during the second half of last season where he also couldn’t manage to stand out.
    But the France international has returned to United and impressed in pre-season under new manager Erik ten Hag before suffering another injury setback.
    The 26-year-old, who is now recovering from an Achilles issue, claims fans had been judging his performances without knowing the full story.
    The Frenchman also suggested that Solskjaer “never bothered” to support him in public.
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    Martial told France Football: “People judge without knowing [the facts].
    “In the last two seasons, I’ve regularly played while injured. People don’t know it, but I couldn’t accelerate during the four months that followed the Covid-19 season.
    “But the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he needed me, so I played. But given my playing style, if I can’t accelerate, then it does becomes very difficult.
    “And I was criticised… The coach never bothered to say it to the media. Of course, I ended up actually getting injured and then when I returned it was over, I wasn’t playing anymore.
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    “I took it very badly, I felt a sense of injustice – you get asked to sacrifice yourself for the team and then you get cast aside.
    “This is part of the kind of things that have tainted my passion for football. For me, it’s almost treachery, it’s everything I hate.
    “There are things to criticise about me, but not that I’m fake. It was also easy – I’m young, quiet, cost a lot of money, I’m the perfect fall guy.
    “I don’t speak out, so it’s even easier. But weirdly enough nobody ever came to tell me that.” More