West Ham center forward Michail Antonio has claimed that he once prayed for himself to suffer an injury. The striker confessed as much during a recent appearance on the High Performance podcast. While discussing a plethora of topics for about an hour, Antonio centered the conversation around mental health.

The Hammers star revealed in the talk that a marriage divorce essentially led to fairly serious mental concerns. The off-field issue then seeped into his work as a successful professional athlete. Antonio joined the east London club for around $10 million back in 2015.

Looking back, the fee now seems like a fantastic bit of business for the team. After all, the striker has been a mainstay in the squad over the last nine seasons. Antonio currently holds the club’s record for most goals in the modern Premier League era with 67.

Antonio prayed for an injury before suffering knee setback

The West Ham star initially told the podcast hosts that the aforementioned divorce triggered an unhappiness with soccer. He even shared that the personal issue hindered his ability to properly celebrate his team’s triumph in the UEFA Conference League final after the 2022/23 season.

This displeasure in the sport, however, continued long after helping his teammates lift the trophy. The unhappiness with his job affected the striker during the current campaign. Antonio even went as far as praying that he would get injured to receive ample time away from the pitch.

“I didn’t score from December (2023) until I think it was March, April time, (2024)” stated Antonio. “And I just felt run-down. And then I went away with Jamaica because I was enjoying football with Jamaica for some strange reason. But I actually prayed for an injury. I was like, ‘I just want to get injured, I want some time off.’ And then I went away with Jamaica, and I did my medial (knee ligament).”

“I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m 33, I can’t afford to be performing this way, otherwise I’m not going to get another contract.’ So, it’s all those things that spiral through your mind. You’re thinking, ‘Is this the end for me? Is this my football career over?'”

Antonio eventually missed 18 total matches for club and country with the aforementioned knee injury. He was previously sidelined for about three months initially beginning in November of 2023.

Michail Antonio is currently seeing a therapist to help with mental health

Along with divorcing his now-former wife, Antonio also attributed his mental health concerns to the grueling demands of being a professional player. “Football’s just constant, you’re constantly just in it,” continued the striker.

“As soon as your life depends on it, as soon as you have people constantly berating you and criticizing you, it becomes a job. So, it doesn’t matter how good it is, it doesn’t matter how much you love the game, it becomes an actual job for you.”

FIFA and UEFA have received backlash in recent years for their insistence to continually expand their tournaments. The global governing body of the sport recently opted to increase the total number of teams involved in both the World Cup and Club World Cup competitions. UEFA, on the other hand, previously introduced the third-tiered Conference League, and will soon expand the Champions League.

While Antonio admitted to having been in a dark place mentally, he also revealed that he is in therapy. The ongoing weekly discussions with the therapist are helping the striker deal with the concerns.

Antonio and West Ham will finish off their 2023/24 with a huge trip to Manchester City this weekend. The Hammers could play a significant part in the Premier League title race with a shock victory in Manchester. Arsenal is currently two points behind league leaders City with just one match remaining on the schedule.