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Martin Bengtsson attempted suicide as a young soccer player. Now his story is changing the conversation about football mental health

(CNN)Most sports movies end at the moment of victory. "Chariots of Fire" where Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell overcome prejudice and vulnerable status to become Olympic champions. Rocky wins the worship of the crowd and declares his love for his girlfriend. Billy Beane's moneyball strategy has been proven.

"Tigers" ended triumphantly as Martin Bentson, the hero of the true story that is the basis of the movie, survived.

When he dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player at the age of 17, Benzson was signed byInter MilanafterChelsea, and Ajax also he. Was interested in.
He joined Inter's Primavera team, lived with prospects from other academies, and was advertised as the next Wayne Rooney orZlatan Ibrahimovic

But in Milan, his dreams and career were unveiled. After spending nine months in Italy, Bengtsson developed depression in the aftermath of his injury and attempted suicide by tearing his wrist in the shower.

He was sent back to his native Sweden to recover, and a year later he never returned from football at the age of 18.

Encouraged by the therapist, Benzson handles his experience in Milan and subdues the rumors he left behind after being involved in drugs.

"I'm angry with what happened and it can be a huge driving force in writing," he saidCNN Sport

I'm talking to. , I have also become more and more aware that this is a missing story. No one was talking about it from the inside.

When Bengtsson published his memoir "In the Shadow of San Siro" in 2007, it was one of the first reports of its kind, even FIFPRO (Global Players Union). , Mental health up to 2013.

After Bengtsson published the book, he moved to Berlin and met filmmaker and writer Ronnie Sandahl in 2011, making them good friends.

"I knew that Ronnie was a very good writer and one of the greatest writers of his generation," says Bengtsson. "So I knew it. It would be a good movie. I believed in him."

Nine years later, Sandal screened the story of Benzson as "Tigers". Translated into. It will be released at a British cinema on July 1st.

Sandal's film was praised by critics and submitted as a Swedish film. Entry to Best International Feature Film in Oscar last year.

The title of the movie shows how the caged animals are stored as a tourist attraction, with cage-like motifs scattered throughout the movie.

The metal bar seems to follow Benzson's expression wherever Sandal goes. Dormitory windows, nightclubs, and even the stadium itself are some sort of cage.

"The essence of this boy, who fights to make his dreams come true, is trapped in his dreams, and tries to find an escape route, is true," Bengtsson recalls, recalling his young self.

'Soccer is all about him'

Some of the turmoil depicted in the movie is his identity, which was completely dependent on football. Benzson's struggle to redefine.

It was its importance that football proved to be the code for actor Erik Enge to understand and interpret the character.

"I had this amazing personal trainer who basically just built his body to look like a football player," Enge told CNN Sports.

"I was able to get Martin's head through physical work, not the mental way of reading scripts."

Benzson's routine and his identity are professional. It was revolved around becoming a soccer player.

He played in the club and followed his training schedule three hours a day.

This tension between becoming the best individual player or the best team player has shaped the relationship between Benzson and his teammates in movies and in real life. According to


, at age 9, less than 1% of players attending the academy at the earliest opportunity will be professional soccer players. To defeat professional contracts and odds, the film depicts competition between teammates who far outperform their opponents.

"After all, even if you're on a team, it's all about yourself and your career," Sandal told CNN.

'Madhouse Mirror'

Bengtsson's book and Sandahl's film reveal aspects of football that aren't usually spoken.

“The world of football acts as a mirror of the madhouse on topics such as masculinity and capitalism,” says Sandahl. "It's really a world where you buy and sell humans."

The market for young soccer players is a multi-billion dollar industry.

CIES Football Observatorysurveys show that between July 2015 and February 2022, UK clubs alone raised more than $ 2.17 billion and graduated from the Youth Academy. There was a transfer of the player who did. Club for at least 3 years.

Such a huge amount of money can make some ambiguity about how young these players are.

"I've heard from people who watched a movie that a pretty young boy was suddenly seen and suddenly becoming a human being, so he couldn't watch the game in the same way. Existence." Sandal says.

The Bengson story was told in 2004, but the film is currently set against the backdrop of social media.

Bengtsson suggests that social media, coupled with the injection of more money into football, softens the potential benefits made with regard to mental health in recent years.

"Now, [young soccer players] are in the limelight in a completely different way today," he says. "So, even if we talk more about it, I think the challenge goes a little beyond that."

FIFPROAccording to a 2015 survey, active 38% of professional soccer players revealed that they experienced symptoms of depression.

The football governing body has made some changes to improve the mental health of its players.

Under the regulations of the 2021/22 season, the English Premier League has at least one full-time full-time in the Category 1 Academy (names given to almost all Premier Leagues and some championship clubs). Mandated to hire a psychologist. .. e

However, club owners and coaches do much more to reduce the pressure faced by young players by better educating themselves about the "psychological level of sport". You can do.

"[They can get started] How this huge pressure works for you a lot of money and how it affects [you] To see. What does it do to people?

"And of course, when you look at it from the outside or from the fans, you can think," Wow, what a feeling. " increase. It's scary to have it.

CNN has asked FIFA and Inter Milan for comment.

{Last cost'

These issues are not unique to football. Last year, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles withdrew from several events at the French Open and the Tokyo Olympics, respectively, to prioritize mental health.

Sandal's Two Tennis and Gymnastics Features Other films, "Borg vs McEnroe" and "Perfect," explore the psychology behind sports stars and combine them with the "Tigers" loose trilogy. I consider it a part.

Each unleashes the "tremendous pressure" it faces. Young athletes in pursuit of greatness, and Sandal, believe that there are similarities in each area.

"It's a world that encourages extreme humans to go all the way, despite the very high costs, after which [athletes] are left alone, and ultimately it costs." Sandal says.

"Everyone who encourages these young people goes all the way to the athlete, but when the spotlight isn't there, they're not there."