The Duke of Cambridge took part in a Zoom call with Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta, Academy manager Per Mertesacker, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Hector Bellerin to discuss the importance of mental health and the new look Heads Up FA Cup Final.
During the call, Prince William cheekily let Aubameyang know that he is hopeful the Arsenal captain will be an Aston Villa player come next season. The participants on the call can be heard breaking out into laughter on hearing this. Arteta can be seen wagging his finger in response to that statement, making it very clear that he is completely against the prospect of losing his top goalscorer in the summer. The Duke of Cambridge admitted that his comment regarding Aubameyang would probably lead to Arteta and himself having a private word after the call.
They went on to discuss the importance of mental health. Prince William asked Aubameyang whether he had come across other players or staff members who had faced challenges regarding their mental health. The Arsenal skipper said:
“I was playing with some players that had some difficulties with their mental health. The most important thing is to be next to them and try to speak a lot with them.”
On Arteta being asked what his experiences of seeing mental health in and around football looked like, the boss responded:
“ I have over twelve different nationalities in the team. That is different backgrounds, different cultures. You have to create a safe environment for them to be able to talk to you directly without feeling judged or worrying whether that’s going to have consequences for them, whether they’re going to play or not, or my feelings towards them.”
“This is what I’ve been trying to do over the last 12 weeks, by trying to talk individually so they can raise those feelings, their issues, and we can build the club culture that I want, which is based on respect.”
Per Mertesacker discussed his views regarding mental health when he was a player as well as in present times:
“I thought I need to be strong, you know, to be resilient. Nowadays, there are more mechanisms than ever to start a conversation.”
The Duke then informed the participants on the call that the Emirates FA Cup Final had been renamed the Heads Up FA Cup Final and that it was going to be used as an opportunity to promote good, positive mental health.