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I had anxiety attacks
21.05.2018, 07:45 AM
Beitrag: #1
I had anxiety attacks
“I have a problem,” Bojan Krkic says, edging forward on the sofa. “I love football, it’s my life.” Outside, through the balcony doors, the sun dips behind Vitoria, northern Spain.
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His homeland is one of five countries in which he has played. He started at Barcelona, where he became their youngest player to make a league debut, and then had spells at Roma, Milan and Ajax. He joined Stoke in 2014 before loans at Mainz and now Alavés. He has won four league titles and the European Cup twice, been a world champion and played alongside some of the finest footballers of a generation. He has scored in La Liga, Serie A, Eredivisie, the Premier League and the Bundesliga, and he is proud of all that. So it might sound like a strange sort of problem to have but there is something in it.
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The question had been whether he had ever considered leaving it all behind, and it is not one he dismisses outright. Ultimately football, the game itself, conquers all but thrown into it at 17, the pressure intense and the environment unforgiving, Bojan had much to conquer too. The anxiety attacks that denied him a piece of history with Spain have been overcome but he still challenges the expectation surrounding him and much of what gathers around the game.
That is one of the reasons why England had such an impact. Bojan has watched Stoke’s relegation from afar and he talks about how supporters were convinced to embrace a new identity and type of football, describing that as a “big victory” and lamenting the moment they turned back again. He talks of a kind of purity found in England. “There’s a phrase: ‘Fútbol, qué bonito eras’ [football, how lovely you were] ... back when there was no social media, when it was football,” he says. “And that’s the feeling I had in England: the smell of it, the essence.”
It is something he fears is being lost elsewhere, aware of what goes with being a player, “powerful forces you can’t control, opinions you can’t stop”, a society where “jealousy predominates” and “everyone has access to you”.
“You have to not let it affect you but that’s not always easy,” he admits. “Those of us who have feeling, who are sensitive, who can be affected, need a good shield. Footballers are very young and they’re exposed. Even at under-15s, players have Twitter and I’m sure they’re already getting insults ... it’s ugly, it sullies society and football.”
Perhaps it is no surprise that when he retires he hopes to teach football, and life, to young players. Bojan can talk from experience. When he joined Stoke he was 23 and he is still only 27, but it feels like a long time has passed since his Barcelona debut. He scored 900 goals in their youth system and says “that accompanies you your entire career”. It was just over a fortnight after his 17th birthday when he first played in La Liga, breaking the record of a player he was supposed to match. His name: Lionel Messi.
“It all happened very quick,” Bojan says. “In footballing terms it went well but not personally. I had to live with that and people say my career hasn’t been as expected. When I came up, it was ‘new Messi’. Well, yes, if you compare me with Messi … but what career did you expect? And there are lots of things that people didn’t know. I didn’t go to the [2008] European Championship because of anxiety issues but we said I was going on holiday. I was called up for Spain against France, my international debut, and it was said that I had gastroenteritis when I had an anxiety attack. But no one wants to talk about that. Football’s not interested.”
Let’s talk about it, then. It matters. “At 17 my life changed entirely. I went to the Under-17 World Cup in July and no one knew me; when I came back, I couldn’t even walk down the road. A few days later I made my debut against Osasuna, three or four days later I play in the Champions League, then I score against Villarreal, then Spain called [in February 2008]. And it was all good but your head fills until there’s a moment that your body says ‘stop’.







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