Gregory van der Wiel has revealed that he has been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks over the past year that have stalled his comeback with RKC Waalwijk.

Van der Wiel wrote on his own website, “For over a year now I’ve been dealing with panic attacks and anxiety, something that started when I was chilling at home in Los Angeles. At the time, I didn’t know what was wrong with me and thought I was having a heart attack. My first thoughts were that something was physically wrong. Together with various hospitals and doctors, we checked my entire body and the conclusion was that everything was functioning optimally. After this confirmation, I started to focus on the mental aspect, which I am still working on to this day.

“There are a few reasons why this is happening to me and I want to share them. As a professional footballer, I was always under the pressure to show the best side of myself, no matter how I felt. I always put my emotions aside and that’s something that has built up over all these years. Frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness, I put it all aside and just got on with my life and career. Saying “I don’t care” to yourself is easy and that’s what I did. The last years of my career have not been easy. After not always being completely happy in Paris, a difficult year in Istanbul, and a few bad months at Cagliari, the biggest emotional blow came when I was forced to leave Toronto FC. After all this negativity, as just mentioned, I had finally had a great year in Toronto. Loved the team, loved the people and the city. I imagined playing and living in Toronto for at least another five to six years. Then I had to leave out of nowhere because of a professional and healthy conversation with the coach, a coach I really liked. This hurt a lot and it still does.

“But I got on with my life, put it aside again, and moved to LA. I was trying to get a contract with another club. Maybe for my old coach (Frank de Boer) In Atlanta, but they never came back to me after showing initial interest. I then tried playing for one of the LA teams for FREE, but after the initial positive reactions, they never got back to me either. There my career slowly ended. During that time, I kept going and didn’t realize what it was doing to me emotionally. In addition, there is the feeling that I don’t know what the future holds for me in my life. Waking up every day not knowing what to do was killing. I went from a routine life of working out every day and playing matches every week to no goals or routine at all.

“Now back in Amsterdam things are much better. The love for the game is still there, it never went away. That’s why I’m trying to get back on the field anyway and I’m lucky to have found a club willing to help me make this happen. RKC Waalwijk welcomed me with open arms and offered to help me with everything. After nice conversations with the head coach and technical director, it was a no-brainer for me. I’m not there yet, but I work hard every day to make my comeback. I’m not sure this is going to happen, but time will tell. Whatever the outcome, I am very grateful for the great help I receive from everyone at RKC.

“I wanted to share this because this is part of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, we are all human and this can happen to anyone. I also wanted to inform you of what I have been through and why the situation is as it is now. It has not been an easy year for me, but it is much better now and I am very excited about things to come.”

Van der Wiel is currently training with RKC Waalwijk and is hoping to play a part for them this season.

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