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Prince of Wales speaks with England stars about football and mental health

Prince William, Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Kelvyn Quagraine (COPA90)
Prince William, Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Kelvyn Quagraine (COPA90)

The Prince of Wales has spoken with England stars Harry Kane and Declan Rice about their shared love for football and the life lessons it has taught them over the years.

William and the World Cup hopefuls open up about their fondest football memories and the ways it has bolstered their mental wellbeing during a 25-minute video available on YouTube.

The episode is hosted by Kelvyn Quagraine, and organised by football media company Copa90 with the Royal Foundation.

During their conversation, William, a keen Aston Villa fan, credits football with teaching him that “disappointment is a part of life”, and highlights the work of Shout, the free and confidential 24/7 text messaging service for people struggling with their mental health.

He said: “You learn by playing a number of times and many other things in life that disappointment is part of life and how you handle it is crucial.

“Handling some of those really disappointing England results in the past, that was hard, I found that really difficult, because again the same euphoria that we had comes crashing down.

“You feel high and all together, and then normal life just gets on again.”

Duke of Cambridge visit to St George’s Park
The Prince of Wales celebrating after scoring a goal during a visit to St George’s Park (Paul Ellis/PA)

William added that he has a “lot of friends” he met through playing football in his youth.

“Some of the greatest friendships are born from playing games and being pushed together in slight adversity,” he said.

The prince also recalled playing four simultaneous games of football with his entire set at school – around 60 pupils – using multiple balls.

He told the football stars: “The sheer size and scale and just the fun of everyone running around chasing each other, I loved it.

“I was a defender, I was stuck at the back and told to just tackle.”

Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2022
The Prince of Wales has said his greatest footballing inspiration is Rio Ferdinand (Adam Davy/PA)

The prince said he looked to former England defender Rio Ferdinand for “inspiration” when he was playing football at school.

William joked: “He was ahead of me just a little bit as time went on.”

Spurs striker Kane remembered his father giving him £5 after he scored his first goal when he was five years old, and spoke about the Harry Kane Foundation, which has partnered with Shout.

Tottenham Hotspur v Sporting Lisbon – UEFA Champions League – Group D – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane has spoken about the highs and lows of football during a conversation with the Prince of Wales (Steven Paston/PA)

The England captain said: “I’ve just launched a foundation which is really exciting for me.

“My aim is to, especially to the younger generation, talk to them and try and provide ways of talking about mental health and wellbeing.

“The more we talk about it, and open up, it will definitely help solve and hopefully encourage people not to be afraid to ask for help, especially when you are feeling a little bit lower.”

West Ham captain Rice said that as a child he loved playing football with his older brothers, and explained how England’s loss in the Euros final last year brought the squad closer together.

Italy v England – UEFA Euro 2020 Final – Wembley Stadium
England players line up during the shoot-out following the Uefa Euro 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

Speaking about the final against Italy, the England midfielder said: “There was a special moment after that game, the togetherness when we all come in a huddle after we’d lost that, and Gareth said some really important words.

“As a group, I think that brought us forward together because then we had to qualify for a World Cup in the next round of games.

“We really overcame that setback of losing that final, showed our togetherness and our strength and I feel that we are in a really good place as a national team that we can keep pushing and getting better because the togetherness we’ve built is really special to be a part of.”

Southampton v West Ham United – Premier League – St Mary’s Stadium
Declan Rice has said the England squad’s bond was strengthened by their Euros final loss to Italy last year (Adam Davy/PA)

Ed Groves, managing editor at Copa90, said he hoped their conversation would remind people of “the power of talking when dealing with their mental health”.

“As football fans we can experience every emotion possible within 90 minutes,” he said.

“But while we all crave basking in collective glory, we need to remember to support each other through the harder moments – in football and in life.”

Mr Groves encouraged fans to come together to watch Qatar 2022 matches.