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Sports psychiatrist: Eberl's performance shows "mental strength"

From 29.01.2022, 17:16 Uhr

Max Eberl has publicly announced his exit from overheated soccer - like others before him who wanted to leave. Sports psychiatrist Valentin Markser praises Eberl's move.

Max Eberl probably deliberately chose to step down from the big stage.

"I know I won't bring back the fast pace, I won't be able to stop this restlessness that is around all of us. I can stop it for me and that's what I'm doing right now," the 48-year-old said. Nearly a quarter of a century as a professional soccer player and official at Borussia Mönchengladbach and in the hectic billion-dollar business of soccer have worn Eberl down.

Eberl showed gratitude on the one hand, but on the other hand also criticized what he once called his life. For example, the excesses in the social media, where insults, judgments or condemnations are made before one has "even said a word. Whether Max Eberl will return at some point is an open question.

Others before him found their way back into the spotlight after they too had clearly audibly articulated the negative effects of their work in soccer. For example, Ottmar Hitzfeld on his time out after his time at FC Bayern in 2003, or Ralf Rangnick in 2011 at FC Schalke 04. "I felt it was coming to an end overall - because you no longer have the energy, no longer have the strength," Hitzfeld once said on Sky. Hitzfeld already wanted a sabbatical in 2001 after winning the CL final, but this was forbidden to him by Uli Hoeneß. Hitzfeld also turned down an offer to coach the national team. Later, he "regained his appetite" and became Swiss national coach.

Rangnick revealed that he was suffering from burnout - and after his return he successfully led the RB Leipzig project. Now he is team manager at Manchester United.

Sports psychiatrist praises Eberl's move Eberl's performance is assessed by sports psychiatrist Valentin Markser as a gesture of great strength. "It's not when you jump off the 10-meter tower once or keep boxing with a double broken jaw that it's mental strength. But to talk about yourself and your feelings and to have them in mind is for me the real mental strength," Markser told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Saturday.

Markser, who as a professional handball player was once German champion and European Cup winner with VfL Gummersbach, sat on the board of trustees of the Robert Enke Foundation for eight years. The former national keeper Enke suffered from depression and took his own life in 2009. Markser founded the German Society for Sports Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DGSSP) and has been working for years to ensure that his discipline becomes an integral part of prevention in professional sports.

Like physicians or physiotherapists, sports psychologists are an integral part of professional clubs. The only difference, according to Markser, is that sports psychologists, who "do outstanding work," are mainly involved with competition preparation and mental training. "They are not trained for mental health," Markser emphasizes. Only sports psychiatrists are, he says. Prevention and early detection are essential to a long career for the psychiatrist, as is stress management in the physical realm.

"This is insanity. We're all on a merry-go-round. And it's spinning faster and faster," Sebastian Deisler had once declared. Once the greatest hope in German soccer, he suffered from injuries and depression - in 2007 he ended his career at the age of just 27.

Also noteworthy in recent years were the deliberately chosen sabbaticals of Pep Guardiola (2012) and Thomas Tuchel (2014). World stars Naomi Osaka (tennis) and Simone Biles (gymnastics) gave deep insights into their mental lives during their retirements. This is not the only reason why Valentin Markser sees himself strengthened in his belief that sports psychiatry will become part of the overall medical care in professional sports "in the next 10, 20, 30 years."

Nevertheless, Markser says, the "destigmatization" of psychiatry is tenacious, despite prominent events such as Osaka or Biles as well. The DGSSP offers in March (March 4-6) in the Olympic Museum in Cologne, the training "Basics of mental health in competitive sports". Invitations to it went among other things to all 36 clubs of the 1. and 2. soccer federal league. According to Markser, there have been no responses to date.

Quelle: dpa


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