Preston North End's Izzy Brown befriends teenage supporter struggling with mental health crisis

Preston North End midfielder Izzy Brown might have saved a teenage supporter's life after the star reached out to the young man in the throes of a mental health crisis.

By Matthew Calderbank
Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 11:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 5:23 pm
PNE midfielder Izzy Brown, 24, reached out to supporter Gareth, 18, after the young man bravely shared his struggles on Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday morning (December 21). Pic: PNE
PNE midfielder Izzy Brown, 24, reached out to supporter Gareth, 18, after the young man bravely shared his struggles on Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday morning (December 21). Pic: PNE

The PNE star, 24, reached out to supporter Gareth, 18, after the young man bravely shared his struggles on Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday morning (December 21).

In a heart-wrenching post, Gareth opened up about his battles with depression and anxiety, saying how football - and North End in particular - has kept him going through some of his darkest days.

"I know a lot of you don’t know me personally, but I’d just like to have a talk, " tweeted Gareth.

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"I’m suffering majorly at the moment with depression and frequent panic attacks. I’m finding very little things to help combat this sadness, but one thing that does help is Preston North End.

"The dark thoughts are really getting to me and it’s hard to ignore them at this stage.

"An issue with me is that I feel alone and that there is no one there for me, to be by my side and help me get better. In reality there, is but it’s hard for me to open up."

Less than 30 minutes after sharing his story - at 4.58am - Gareth was stunned to a receive a message back from one of his North End heroes.

Izzy (centre) reached out to a teenage supporter struggling with a mental health crisis in the early hours of Tuesday morning, saying "Private message me your phone number mate, I will give you a call. I’m here anytime, for anyone, so please reach out and speak to me." Pic: PNE

"We got this my friend," tweeted Isaiah 'Izzy' Brown, who joined PNE from Chelsea in the summer.

"Private message me your phone number mate, I will give you a call.

"I’m here anytime, for anyone, so please reach out and speak to me or somebody, it doesn’t have to be a professional, it could be a complete stranger.

"You never know what one conversation could do!"

The incredible gesture from big-hearted Izzy comes just days after the tragic death of his close friend, football agent Dominic Yarwood, aged just 32.

Dominic's body was found by police in Salford on Thursday, December 16, 24 hours after he was reported missing.

During the frantic search for Dominic, Izzy Brown and other footballers - including Manchester City star Kyle Walker and Blackpool players Grant Ward and CJ Hamilton - had shared urgent appeals on social media to help find their friend.

Alerted to Gareth's desperate tweet in the early hours, Izzy was determined to help others with their struggles and prevent further tragedy.

The footballer phoned Gareth and the two had a good talk, with the 18-year-old supporter thanking Izzy for being there for him and 'changing his life'.

Gareth tweeted: "My absolute hero, I was shaking throughout the whole conversation but spoke to me as if we knew each other for years on end.

"A true hero of mine and his kindness has 100% changed my life.

"Just a 10 minute chat from someone I look up to has really made me feel amazing. Thank You Izzy."

Speaking to the Post, Gareth said: "It really has helped, he offered to take me down to a game to sit together, get a signed shirt from all of the lads and most importantly he was my friend.

"He let me open up, let me speak my mind and even spoke his. He’s a true inspiration and he really is my hero.

"Having all these messages from other people too have made things incredibly easier and I’m starting to finally understand that I’m not alone in this world."

Gareth is now encouraging other young men to open up about their own mental health and not to be afraid of asking for support.

He added: "It has shown me how much people really care and how much love and help there is for you when you least expect it.

"So please, please get some help if you need it. I myself am now going to get some help and I hope you do too."

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