Richarlison looks like a new man at Tottenham Hotspur. Since his return from groin surgery at the end of the 2023 calendar year, the Brazilian No. 9 has roared back and is playing the best football of his Spurs tenure. Richy has scored six goals in his last seven matches, is coming off of an impressive performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford, and most importantly looks settled, confident, and happy.
Part of that, according to him, is due to therapy. In a Portuguese-language interview with ESPN Brazil, Richarlison says that Tottenham helped him get into therapy in order to rehabilitate his mind and emotions along with his body, and he attributes part of his recent uptick in form to the positive experience talking to someone trained to listen.
“I managed, with the help of the club, to get this help. This was very important for me, because, as I said, there were days when I didn’t want to leave the house, leave my room. [I’d] go to train, go straight home and lock myself inside my room. So, that was difficult for me. And as I said, it seems that I talk more with people, venting, I think that it has improved.
“And it is something that, as I am from the countryside and there is kind of attitude, like ‘I am not going to do these (therapy) sessions, because I am not crazy’, or something. Because people in the countryside have this prejudice, my family has this prejudice. Then, a time came when I understood that I needed help. And several people told me that too. So I sought this psychological help and the teacher has really helped me a lot.
“I was [prejudiced]. My family, all the people from the countryside are like that, if you are going to do something like this, some psychological sessions, people will say that you are crazy, that you are going crazy. There is this prejudice, and I ask people to do it (anyway), because it will help a lot.”
I love this story. I love how Richarlison has embraced the idea of treating his mental health the same way that he treats his body and physical health, and that through his actions he is openly helping to further destigmatize mental health issues in football. We know Richarlison is a thoughtful and perceptive person, but his anecdotes about his upbringing in rural Brazil and how therapy was perceived in his area made him initially reluctant to get help are illuminating. That Richy was able to both be open to the idea that he needed some additional help and listen to those around him to seek it out says a lot about him as a person.
We know that Richy has had something of a rough time of it since arriving at Tottenham. He’s battled through a number of injuries along with tensions with former manager Antonio Conte and the pressures of playing as Brazil’s No. 9 in a World Cup. He’s struggled with his form along the way, and it was obvious watching and listening to him that he was dealing with a lot of stuff. Richy even said a while back that he was planning to get psychological help in the wake of his groin injury and surgery. Now we see the fruits of that work — he seems much more at peace, and it’s apparent both on and off the pitch.
“I think the main thing is happiness. I think I managed to find my happiness again. I came from some moments a little dejected, sad... I was not that Richarlison that everyone knew. Even to train was different. So, I think I managed to find that again, that hope that I had. This joy that I have inside me. So that was the most important thing that I managed to get back.”
Good for you, Richy and good for Tottenham for both recognizing his struggles and making sure he had the resources available to him for help. Long may it continue.