By E-Perform | Anxiety | August 4, 2022
How To Deal With Anxiety In Football
Most successful people are not born with a road of success already paved for them.
What often brings success is their character, resilience and their will to keep going towards their goals.
In this episode, Nathan Dyer shares with us the journey that started as a teenager, playing for the Southampton football club.
He talks about the need to stay calm and avoid putting more pressure on yourself as a young player, dealing with anxiety in football, and depression, and how you can do ‘extra” to improve your performance on the pitch.
To overcome the ups and downs of professional football, you have to be yourself and make the right decisions through the challenges. Dyer shares his journey, from joining the Southampton Academy at 13, loan moves to different clubs, and later retiring at Swansea City.
A journey full of ups and downs for the man who was ready to face anything and later became a Premier League winner and made over 300 career appearances.
“It doesn’t matter whether you have the talent or not. If you’re not willing to apply yourself and improve, then you’ll eventually go downhill.”Nathan Dyer
Nathan Dyer: Transition From Youth Team to First Team
From a young age, Nathan Dyer wanted to play football just for fun. His parents didn’t tell him the stress involved with football and just let him enjoy it, which he says was a good thing as he loved the game more and more.
It was a whole new experience after moving away from home to join the Southampton Academy team. However, Nathan still didn’t put any pressure on himself but decided to enjoy the game as much as he could.
“I was just enjoying every day, just going out there and wanting to kick the ball around. I never put anything stressful upon myself or nobody.”
This was the incredible Southampton Academy whose team members later became elite players that graced the European Champions League football. Nathan says it was a unique side that that lived as a family.
All the youths lived in a place called “The Lodge” after school, which helped develop the friendship and brotherhood which later was extended to the pitch.
Since it was never an individual thing, several players supported each other to develop and later joined some of the best teams in the world. Some youth players in the academy were Gareth Bale and Kyle Walker.
Apart from the friendship and brotherhood among the players, the coach also brought technicality to football at a young age. He ensured they learned about passing, positioning, and using the body to play.
Nathan Dyer on Training with the first team
By 17, Nathan was already training with Southampton’s first team and had a desire to want more every day.
He says that even if you have a talent but don’t apply yourself as much as you should, then you might not make it to the top. He always wanted to do everything as a winger in training. However, the coach advised that he should only do what he was best at and the rest will be worked on.
After facing a contract dispute at Southampton FC, Dyer found his professional career faced with challenges for the first time.
The dispute led to him being left out of the preseason team training and was sidelined until he signed a new contract. Due to the dispute, he received death threats from fans and the public. Some even abused him while warming up on the pitch.
He says it was a real test of his character but he never let the situation bring him down. Although the media were giving their version of what transpired, he chose not to believe in the twisted story.
Another good side is that he had the support of his family and friends, who believed in him and knew the real him. He was later loaned out to Burnley, Sheffield United, and Swansea, where he later signed for a permanent deal.
Nathan Dyer: Approaching the Difficulties
Faced with a situation where the manager has no plan for you in the team, it could feel like the end of the road in your career. What’s worse is having the feeling that you’re no longer wanted in the club. It always seems like there will never be an end to the tunnel.
However, when faced with such situations, Dyer says you have to keep doing what you’re doing. Show everybody what kind of a person you are, what kind of a player you are and there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s normal not to like the situation at that moment, but persist with it.
“Keep going. Keep training well. Keep everything into it and the results will come out.”
Sometimes you might even be sidelined from the matchday’s team sheet, even after spending a whole week working hard to get a spot in the starting eleven. But it’s not the right time to give up. Pick yourself up and keep the faith. Understand that you have the ability. Keep setting your goals on training sessions and figure out what you want to improve. Your moment will definitely come.
Nathan says graduating to the senior team, especially for the youth players can be tough sometimes. He advises the players to accept those loan moves which are always an opportunity to get more playing time and some experience. There’s no need to hurry. You’re still young and there’s no need to strive to be the best too soon. Everybody’s path is different. Just continue working on yourself without putting too much pressure to succeed.
Nathan Dyer: Promotion To the Premier League and Playing in High-Pressure Games
After finishing third with Swansea City, Nathan Dyer’s side booked a place in the playoffs final which was to determine the team that was going to be promoted to the English Premier League.
For anyone who could be in this situation, experiencing too much pressure at the moment may be normal. However, this was not the case with the side. With a great manager in Brendan Rodgers at the time, the team believed that they were a great side and capable of getting to the top of English Football.
The team had proper preparation and focused on their nutrition, what to eat and drink before the game just to give their body an advantage to perform well during the game.
In the dressing room, the manager ensured everybody is relaxed and envision what to do on the pitch.
“For me personally, it was just about preparation. Making sure that I was hydrated. Making sure that I had all of my stuff ready and I wasn’t flapping around.”
In the game, Nathan made two assists to help Swansea City win 4-2, making to the premier league the first Welsh side to ever play in the league.
Nathan Dyer later moved on loan to Leicester City in a season where he won the Premier League trophy with the side. He says that playing at the top needs those who do extra. However, he also warns that you don’t have to do too much extra because you can easily work yourself out.
After an impressive performance as an individual or a team, most people have a negative perception such as a “one-season wonder”, especially at the beginning of the new season.
Nathan advises players and teams to use these perceptions to their advantage.
He says that you should go out there and enjoy it while doing your best to prove them wrong.
Having experienced it at Leicester when no one believed they could win the League after topping the table on Christmas day, he says that staying with the right mentality and applying yourself, even more, gives you a great chance of winning over the doubters.
“ I do find out in football when you haven’t put yourself or the team under pressure, you end up performing well“
- [03:30] I was enjoying it every day. Just going out there and wanting to kick the football around. I never put anything stressful upon myself or anybody.
- [15:50] Some people have the talent but don’t apply themselves as much as they should have done and some people are a bit too professional.
- [29:07] Keep doing what you’re doing. Show everybody what kind of person you are. What kind of player you are and things will come good.
- [39:56] For me personally, it was just about preparation. Making sure that I was hydrated. Making sure that I had all of my stuff ready and I wasn’t flapping around.
- [45:59] What you have to do is watch games. Watch other people train, other teams, playing on TV, and see how they do things, and then implement them into your game.
- [50:01] It doesn’t matter whether you have the talent or not. If you’re not willing to apply yourself and improve, then you’ll eventually go downhill.
- [1:10:57] I do find out in football when you haven’t put yourself or the team under pressure, you end up performing well.
“I was enjoying it every day. Just going out there and wanting to kick the football around. I never put anything stressful upon myself or anybody.”
With the aim of just having fun while playing football, Nathan Dyer rose through the ranks quickly from a young age to join the Southampton youth team when he was just 13. He says that his parents not telling him about the stressors in football helped him just focus on the game that he loved.
Even after joining the Academy, he never put any pressure on himself or anybody but just kept playing. The incredible Southampton youth team was part of the great foundation he received and learned everything about professional football. He says they lived like friends and brothers, extending the relationship even on the pitch. It was never an individual situation.
Nathan later started training with the senior team but was later loaned out to Sheffield United, and later to Swansea. His career has been faced with a few mountains to climb, including being phased out of the Southampton team due to contract disputes, abuses from the fans and the public, anxiety, and depression.
Despite all these challenges, he says he knew he had backing from his parents and friends who knew him and knew the true story unlike what people are believing out there, which is twisted by the media.
Nathan Dyer Advice to young football players
“Keep doing what you’re doing. Show everybody what kind of person you are. What kind of player you are and things will come good.”
Dyer says that even if you’re faced with the most difficult moments in your career, just keep doing the right thing without stopping. Continue working on yourself and other things will come good. You might not like it at the moment but your persistence to keep training will soon pay off.
Sometimes it’s so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially when it feels like you’re not wanted in the team, or the new manager has no plans for you in the team.
Sometimes you can even train a whole week just to get a spot in the starting eleven but still miss the coach’s selection. Just pick yourself back up and keep doing it. Keep the faith and understand that you have the ability.
Key Highlights in This Episode:
[01:48] Making a transition from youth team to the first team
[04:32] The incredible Southampton Academy team
[08:40] Lifestyle at the Southampton academy
[13:48] Training with the first team
[14:58] Wanting more
[17:00] Never put pressure on yourself
[19:14] Developing into elite players
[21:29] Phased out of the team due to contract dispute
[26:00] Dealing with anxiety in football, depression, and pressure
[27:23] Loan and Sheffield United and move to Swansea
[30:43] Approaching the difficulties
[34:58] Performing at the championship playoffs final
[41:56] Transitioning from Championship to EPL
[44:17] Championship and the Premier League difference
[49:57] Doing extra in modern-day football
[53:50] Playing at the Premier League and Europa League
[1:00:33] Importance of wanting to learn more
[1:02:04] Leicester Premier League Winner
[1:04:57] Moving clubs for the negative reasons
[1:08:23] Working as a team and leaving no stone unturned
[1:10:33] Dealing with negative perceptions
[1:14:00] Approach on the matchday at Leicester City
[1:16:50] Dealing with success
[1:26:02] Nathan Dyers Biggest lessons from top managers
[1:28:47] How do adapt to different managers
[1:30:30] Advice to 17-year-old Nathan Dyer
Why did Nathan Dyer retire?
I just felt now was the right time to announce my retirement from football,” Dyer told Sky Sports News. “It’s been a hard decision but I think with COVID hitting and a lot of other things going on in the world today, I just thought it was the right time.
How old is Nathan Dyer?
Date of birth, (1987-11-29) 29 November 1987 (age 34)
How tall is Nathan Dyer?
Where was Nathan Dyer born?