Sam Shilton joins the PFA counselling team...

The Professional Football Association (PFA) has recruited a team of counsellors to help football players with mental health issues.

The team of 13 accredited counsellors will be headed up by ex-Brighton winger Michael Bennett, who has been appointed as head of player welfare for the PFA.

His team includes five former professional football players, including former Bristol City defender Andy Jordan, former Rochdale striker Andy Milner and ex-Coventry defender Sam Shilton.

West Ham psychologist and former Huddersfield midfielder, Lee Richardson will alsobe part of the team.

Bennett, who has suffered from depression himself when he suffered a knee injury when he was 20, said the former players would provide great support as they have all been through mental health issues themselves.

According to, he said: "They've been there. They know first-hand. The empathy they offer is great."

The service will be open to current and former players, offering counselling courses to deal with conditions such as stress, panic attacks, behavioural problems and even addictions to drugs and gambling.

Talking about the service, Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the PFA said: "There is a much greater awareness that mental welfare is as important as physical welfare. We want to embrace it. The programme is there to keep players away from danger areas."