Martin Keown was an intimidating presence on the football field for Arsenal and scared his opponents and teammates alike.
The three-time Premier League winner admitted he knew he couldn’t show any weakness during his playing days, a story all too familiar to players of his generation.
Keown is reportedly keeping manager Arsene Wenger at bay to make it look like all is well for him.
The former England international has urged players to speak up and admit they need help if they have mental health issues.
Speaking to Jim White on talkSPORT, Keown said, “It’s a strength to be able to voice the issues you are having and to admit that you need help.
“At the time, it was seen as a weakness. It’s interesting because over the years you have luck.
“I think it’s also important that you are stable.
“I was probably too sensitive when I was excluded from the team and there would have been an argument.
“Certainly, when Arsène Wenger arrived, I decided that I was going to go to an island. He was on his island and I needed to show that the world was great for me and that I was okay.
“If he wanted to choose me, you choose me. It’s yours. There are sharks and all kinds in the waters around me, and for both of us, but I have to show that I am strong in my demeanor and how I work.
“He always chose me. This is important as a player, but if there is a problem, don’t hide it. If you need help, speak up.
Keown played 449 games for Arsenal over two periods during one of the most illustrious periods in the club’s history.
In addition to his three Premier League titles, he has won three FA Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
The 54-year-old admitted he used to row with previous Arsenal bosses if he wasn’t on the squad.
“If you want to let me down, in my world I’m the best. I cannot show any weakness. There were situations around him (Wenger) in terms of selection when there were doubts when I would come back from injury, ”Keown said.
“I wouldn’t knock on his door to ask him ‘am I going to play?’ I knew I was going to play and I had to give off that aura that I was going to be on the team.
“That’s why I adopted this style. As a young man, I was a little different. I had quite a few feuds with George Graham, I had quite a few feuds with Graham Taylor because I wanted what was going right with the team.
“I’ve always wanted to be as perfect as possible and give myself the best chance to be as perfect as possible.
“When I felt that someone was not in my corner and not helping me, then I could react.”