Michail Antonio reveals he considered retiring due to mental health struggles earlier in West Ham career

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Michail Antonio has revealed previous mental health struggles while at West Ham almost led to him retiring from football.

The forward joined the Hammers in 2015 and is the club’s all-time top scorer in the Premier League with 58 top-flight goals, despite initially playing as a winger or even a right-back.

Antonio has been a regular in recent campaigns, leading the line for David Moyes’ side and playing his part in West Ham reaching the Europa League final last season, though has struggled for minutes since the arrival of Gianluca Scamacca.

Discussing a period earlier in his West Ham career, the 32-year-old described how much football was impacting his mental health and the extent to which he was suffering off the pitch as a result of the way he was being managed.

“There was one time where it really affected me,” Antonio told the Under The Surface podcast.

“I’m a person that likes to control things – if I feel that I can control things then I’ll deal with things. But this time where it did hit me, I felt like I fell into a depression.

“I started the very first game of the season. The next game, I wasn’t in the squad. The next game, I started. The next game, I wasn’t in the squad. Then I came off the bench. The next game I started and got pulled off at half-time. And that just kept happening.

“Even if I was playing well, it just kept happening to me. No matter what I was doing, I wasn’t good enough. If I was having a great game, it wasn’t good enough. So I just felt powerless, and there was nothing I could do.”

Antonio spoke with family members and his agent, revealing that helped him to get into a better place mentally, though not before he gave real thought to walking away from the sport.

“I don’t like showing emotion and I like dealing with things, but tears were just falling from my eyes in bed,” Antonio said.

“My Mrs was laying next to me in bed and I didn’t say anything, just tears falling – she looked up and said ‘Are you alright?’ and I said yeah, I’m fine, but she said ‘You can’t be fine, you’re crying’, and I just said ‘I don’t know if I want to play football anymore’.

He added: “I said to her ‘I don’t know if I want to play anymore, I’m thinking about retiring’, because I knew if I went to West Ham and said I want to leave, they weren’t going to want to sell me. So I was honestly just thinking about leaving football and retiring.”