The man who would be worth billions: Vincent Pericard, migration and mental illness

Richard Elliott

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    This paper builds on the limited body of work that currently exists in respect of sports work and mental illness. It does so by drawing on the case of Vincent Pericard, a Cameroonian born, French international footballer who was described in a 1999 television documentary as ‘The man who will be worth billions’, but who, following a poorly managed transfer between Juventus and Portsmouth, retired from the game at the age of 28, having being diagnosed with depression. Based upon a series of interviews conducted with Vincent over an 8-year period, the intention of this paper is two-fold. Firstly, I analyse the conditions of Vincent’s transfer from Juventus to Portsmouth. I examine how a loss of status and diminished sense of self, coupled with a range of other challenges specifically related to Vincent’s migration, acted as triggers to the initial development of his depression. Secondly, I analyse Vincent’s working environment in England. In this section, I draw on the work of Goffman to show how Vincent was forced to conceal the deterioration of his mental health—something that ultimately contributed to a worsening of it. These analyses are used to illustrate two things: (1) the potential mental health consequences that can occur when the international transfers of foreign players are not managed effectively; and (2) the negative effects a player’s club environment can have on their mental health, if no suitable outlet exists for them to be able to discuss it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages17
    JournalEuropean Journal for Sport and Society
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2020


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