Sport stars and football fans have expressed their heartfelt support and wished Aaron Lennon a speedy recovery after the Everton winger was detained under the Mental Health Act amid concern for his welfare.
The 30-year-old, who has 21 caps for England, was taken to hospital on Sunday to be assessed after officers were called to a road in Salford where he was said to have been in a distressed state.
Lennon’s club said he was being treated for a “stress-related illness” and his representative urged him to “stay strong”.
The footballer last played for Everton as a substitute in the goalless draw at Middlesbrough on February 11.
Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called at around 4.35pm to reports of a concern for the welfare of a man on Eccles Old Road.
“Officers attended and a 30-year-old man was detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and was taken to hospital for assessment.”
Lennon’s representative, Base Soccer Agency, tweeted: “Everyone at Base Soccer sends their support to @AaronLennon12 - get well soon and stay strong.”
In a statement Everton said: “Aaron Lennon is currently receiving care and treatment for a stress-related illness.
“The club is supporting him through this and his family has appealed for privacy at this time.”
News of Lennon’s ill health prompted an outpouring of supportive messages from across the sporting community, including from former world heavyweight boxing champion, Frank Bruno, and ex-Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore.
The former footballer, who has been affected by depression, wrote: “Thoughts and love with Aaron Lennon and his family right now. I know that place, and I know he’ll be fine with good support from us all.”
The news also led to a wider discussion on the strains of having a high pressure job and how mental illness can strike anyone at any time.
“The mind, just like the body can break down at times,” one social media commentator wrote.
Sports fans expressed frustration that some had chosen to make fun of Lennon’s ill health, as “mental health is a massive issue”.
Former Labour spin doctor and Burnley season ticket holder Alastair Campbell also criticised the Daily Mail for mentioning Lennon’s salary in the headline of its story about his sectioning.
The comment struck a cord with others on social media, with one commenter writing: “Aaron Lennon is a human being not just a multi millionaire footballer. People want to read up about mental health before passing comment.”
The Mail later removed Lennon’s wages from its headline and article.
Useful websites and helplines:
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: email@example.com
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide.
Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41