Arsenal legend Martin Keown opens up on mental health and how he kept Arsene Wenger at arm’s length as a player

Martin Keown was an intimidating presence on the football pitch for Arsenal and struck fear into opponents and teammates alike.

The three-time Premier League winner admitted that he knew he couldn’t show any weakness during his playing days, a story all-too familiar for players from his generation.


Martin Keown won three Premier Leagues under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal[/caption]

Keown would keep manager Arsene Wenger at arm’s length to give off the impression everything was great for him.

The former England international urged players now to speak up and admit they need help if they are struggling with their mental health.

Speaking to Jim White on talkSPORT, Keown said: “It’s a strength to be able to express problems you are having and admit that you need help.

“Back in the day it was seen as being a weakness. It’s interesting as over the years you chance.

“I think it’s important for you to be stable as well. 

“I was probably too sensitive when I was left out the team and there’d be a row.


Keown played more than 750 games in his professional career for Arsenal, Aston Villa, Everton, Leicester and Reading[/caption]

“Certainly when Arsene Wenger came I decided I was going to put myself on an island. He was on his island and I needed to demonstrate the world was great for me and I was fine.

“If he wanted to pick me you pick me. It’s up to you. There’s sharks and all sorts in the waters around me, and for both of us, but I have to demonstrate I’m solid in my behaviour and how I work.

“He invariably picked me. It’s important as a player, but if there’s a problem don’t go hiding it. If you need help then speak up.”

Keown played 449 games for Arsenal across two spells during one of the most illustrious periods in the club’s history.


Keown also made 43 appearances for England[/caption]

Along with his three Premier League titles, he 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 in the team.

“If you want to drop me, in my world I’m the top man. I can’t show any weakness. There was situations around him (Wenger) in terms of selection when there were doubts when I’d come back from injury,” Keown said.

Wenger spent 22 years as Arsenal manager and Keown opened up on his relationship with the Frenchman
Getty Images – Getty

“I wouldn’t be knocking 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 in the team.

“That’s why I adopted that style. As a young man I was a bit different. I had quite a lot of rows with George Graham, I had quite a lot of rows with Graham Taylor because I wanted what was right with the team.

“I always wanted to be as perfect as possible and give myself the best chance of being as perfect as possible.

“When I felt someone wasn’t in my corner, and wasn’t helping me, then I could react.”