• Premier League

'Depressed' Cabaye boosted by Nadal words

ESPN staff
March 26, 2013
Yohan Cabaye has been a key player for Newcastle © Getty Images

Yohan Cabaye has admitted he suffered a form of depression after Euro 2012, but has since rekindled his love of football thanks to Jonny Wilkinson and Rafael Nadal.

Cabaye, 27, was impressive for Newcastle United after joining from Lille in the summer of 2011, but Magpies fans were surprised to see their habitually combative midfielder somewhat below-par on his return to St James' Park following last summer's European Championship.

Speculation was rife the France international had had his attention distracted by talk of a move away from the North East of England, but Cabaye himself told L'Equipe a dark cloud of depression lay behind his dip in form.

"I'm not afraid to say it. That's what it was. But I'd been reassured after reading the books of Jonny Wilkinson and Rafael Nadal in which they both spoke about the same thing. They both talked about a form of post-competition depression, a need to take a break, that their body wouldn't do what it was told," Cabaye said.

"I asked myself questions. It was the first time that had happened to me, and it really hits you. I hear others talk about it often, but if it doesn't happen to you personally, you can't understand. On the other hand, when you're the person concerned, it's not easy to handle. But I knew things would come back."

Cabaye was perhaps a victim of his own brilliant success in his maiden Premier League campaign. His displays in the black-and-white of his club ensured he also became a regular feature in the blue of his country with then-national team coach Laurent Blanc relying heavily on Cabaye in the build-up to and during Euro 2012.

"The season was long in a league where the rhythm is a lot higher than in France. I started with Newcastle in July 2011, ended at the end of June, and it was the first time I hadn't had a break in December. Added to that were the trips between Newcastle and France. Consequently, when the season started again at the end of July, I had a lot of difficulty," he said, adding an advisor had warned him post-big tournament blues could strike.

"I was convinced I'd pick up where I'd left off, but no, he was right. My body didn't follow what I wanted it to do. When I got up in the morning, I felt tired. I love football, and watch all the games from Ligue 2 on a Friday to the big game on Sunday night, but when I saw football, I turned over. I wanted to think about other things."

That opportunity was afforded by an injury-enforced absence of two months either side of Christmas. A groin problem which required surgery sidelined Cabaye from mid-November until mid-January and proved a blessing in disguise.

"I went to Lille, saw my family and friends, and when I came back to Newcastle in December, one of my friends who plays in the amateur fourth-tier told me: 'I'm warning you. You start again with Newcastle, and if you come back to Lille and tell me that you don't have any desire to do that, I'll give you a hiding'", he laughed, insisting he is now fully recovered.

"Physically, I feel very good. I've strung together matches, and I'm ready to fight for the club. I want to give twice as much to save the club from relegation. I feel really good now. Now that that episode is over, I enjoy going to training, and getting out on the pitch much more. I appreciate my good fortune. I realised that - unconsciously - that enthusiasm could disappear. That's the most dangerous thing. You have to look after it."

Cabaye's valuable blend of destructive and creative qualities will be on show at the Stade de France on Tuesday with France entertaining Spain. Now an established Premier League footballer, Cabaye admitted he needed his international credentials to give him credibility, even within his own club.

"Before I came to Newcastle, even in the dressing room people didn't know me. It's true that what I do in the national team can help me. But it's also what I do with my club that counts. I want to prove to people that they can have confidence in me and that I can defend Newcastle's colours."

Reports in the region have claimed owner Mike Ashley will not sell Cabaye for any price in the summer - earmarking him as a replacement captain for the departing Fabricio Coloccini.

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