EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ (March 12, 2019) – Former English Premier League and Welsh National player David Cotterill will be visiting EDP in April to discuss the importance of mental health and communication. Cotterill played nearly 400 games for club and country, all while battling with depression, which nearly took his life. He’ll speak about his experiences as a part of the EDP Coaching Education Series, and attendance is free for all EDP-member coaches.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play at the highest level for both club and country for many years,” Cotterill said. “That experience taught me a lot about myself. I’m now fortunate enough to share my experience with professional academies from across the globe, and I’m excited to bring my story to EDP!”
Cotterill moved through Bristol City’s academy system and made his debut for the senior team as a 16-year-old in 2004. He played 14 professional seasons before retiring from soccer in October 2018. Cotterill also made 24 international appearances for Wales and scored two goals for his nation, including one against Cyprus in a 2-1 victory during Euro 2016 qualifying. His performances for his country led to a final roster spot for the European Championships that year where he, along with top fellow Welsh internationals Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, helped the team make a run all the way to the semi-finals.
He battled with depression and suicidal thoughts throughout his career, but never went public about his struggles until September 2018. One of the reasons Cotterill waited so long to open up was out of fear that his coaches would use that as an excuse to keep him out of the lineup.
“Put it this way, if I went to a manager and said I’m struggling mentally, I need a break or I need a little bit of help, there’s no way he’s playing me on a Sunday or a Tuesday,” Cotterill said in an interview with the BBC in September. “He would say, ‘He’s not mentally stable. He’s not up for it.’”
Since his retirement, Cotterill has become an advocate for mental health awareness. He has shared his story around the world, stressing the importance of players having a support system and teams providing them with the resources to get help when needed.
“The brain is the strongest muscle in the body,” EDP Technical Director Simon Collins said. “As a player, we always spoke about being ‘mentally strong,’ but nobody ever told us what that meant or how to get there. I’m thrilled to be able to connect David with the EDP family, as his experience represents a tremendous learning opportunity for us all.”
Space is limited, so coaches are encouraged to sign up in advance. The three dates are:
Founded in 1999, Elite Development Program Soccer (EDP) is one of the largest organizers of youth soccer leagues and tournaments in the U.S. EDP operates youth leagues for boys and girls ages 9-19, conducts a Futures program for players ages 7-11, and operates U20/23 men’s and women’s leagues. EDP also runs over 20 tournaments each year. One of the major priorities of EDP’s leagues and tournaments is to enable soccer players to reach their full potential, with an emphasis on attending college. More than 3,500 teams participate in EDP’s leagues and more than 170,000 players compete in EDP tournaments annually. For more information on EDP, visit www.edpsoccer.com.