Chelsea goalkeeper Carly Telford reveals extent of mental health struggles

Fiona Tomas
Carly Telford of England passes the ball during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group D match between England and Argentina at on June 14, 2019 in Le Havre, France - GETTY IMAGES
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Carly Telford, the England and Chelsea goalkeeper, has revealed how coming to terms with the death of her mother left her “completely emotionally detached” at last year’s World Cup in France.

Telford made her long-awaited debut aged 31 at the tournament in England’s second pool win against Argentina, 12 years after first being named in a World Cup squad, for the 2007 edition in China. She dedicated that 1-0 victory to her late mother Yvonne, who died from cancer in 2018.

In a virtual round-table meeting hosted by Karen Carney and released by the Football Association to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Telford revealed the extent of a year-long struggle with her mental health leading up to and after the tournament in France.

“I’m a really sociable person [but] I remember at the World Cup, Jill [Scott] would ask me loads of times, ‘Caz, do you want to go for a cuppa? Do you want to go for a walk down the beach?’ I’d be like, ‘Nah, I’m all right Jill, don’t worry about me, I’ll just sit in my room’,” Telford said.

“I just spent loads of time by myself, which is completely not like me. I was completely emotionally detached from anyone and anything.”

It was only after the tournament, in which England finished fourth, when Telford took a holiday for a period of reflection, that she realised “the storm that had been building and brewing that whole year just came tumbling down”. She began counselling sessions, which she continues on a monthly basis, despite acknowledging that she is in a much better place mentally.

“I did leave that meeting feeling like the most relieved human,” said Telford, recalling her first session. “I literally just poured my heart out and was so open and honest for the first time in a whole year. It was like the fog had gone. After that meeting, I posted on social media.

“Sometimes it’s not always the people close to you who can help. When I did post it, Millie [Bright], Jill [Scott], Raff [Claire Rafferty] were like, ‘Why didn’t you tell us you weren’t OK? I was like, ‘Because I didn’t know’. I honestly felt I was actually all right. I think that’s part of grief. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it because it’s such a unique experience.”

Telford’s Chelsea could be crowned champions of the Women’s Super League if the Football Association decides to end the season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and determine final positions on a points-per-game basis. An update on how the season will be decided is expected on Monday.