Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA closer look at Jesus Navas and his struggle to make it to the top - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A closer look at Jesus Navas and his struggle to make it to the top - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A closer look at Jesus Navas and his struggle to make it to the top

Manuel Pellegrini hasn’t wasted any time in making his mark at Manchester City, bringing in Jesus Navas from the south of Spain after years of speculation linking him to the top clubs in Europe.

The £17m fee reported by Guardian Sport has been met with delight by City fans with many fans tweeting the impressive passing/creative stats Señor Navas posted in La Liga this season, and since his breakthrough into the Sevilla first-team. However, there has always been one thing that has held him back and stopping him from moving earlier in his career; Man City fans will be eager to see whether the player has outgrown this problem.

Early in his career Navas suffered from anxiety disorders that stopped him travelling to away games as he suffered from ‘attacks’ if he travelled too far away from his hometown. Coupled with his anxiety, Navas experienced arbitrary seizures during his youth that affected his confidence and further inducing him to stay in Seville. Other players such as Leighton Baines have been rumoured to be sufferers from anxiety and homesickness, so it appears Jesus is not on his own in football.

Dennis Bergkamp was the most famous player to suffer from an anxiety disorder, famously never travelling by air and limiting his appearances in Europe to home games. This psychological ailment earned him the nickname of ‘The Non-Flying Dutchman’ and if possible, Bergkamp would travel by land to European away games.

Talking to The Independent in 1996 Bergkamp states he considered psychiatric help to help him with his fears:

I’ve got this problem and I have to live with it. I can’t do anything about it, it is a psychological thing and I can’t explain it. I have not flown on a plane for two years,” he said.

I am considering psychiatric help,” admitted the striker. “I can’t fly. I just freeze. I get panicky. It starts the day before, when I can’t sleep.

The vast use/improvement of psychology in football has brought a new dawn into the game, with the main focus seemingly on mind-games and positive thinking going into matches. Manuel Pellegrini will be looking to add an expert to his backroom staff that can support and protect their Spanish winger and make him feel comfortable in his new surroundings. Though Navas didn’t appear for the Spanish national team until he was 24, it appears fears over his mental stability have been surpassed and since his debut in 2009 has added a further 22 caps, appearing in the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship.

This improvement combined with the appointment of a Spanish speaking manager will have been a big influence in the decision by Jesus Navas to finally leave Seville and it will be interesting to see him test himself against different opposition, as well as how he adapts to a different culture. Whatever happens he will no doubt have the backing of his team-mates and the supporters at Manchester City who will be hoping he doesn’t become too blue in his time at the Etihad.