Caution necessary with Breno judgement

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Bayern Munich defender Breno faces the prospect of a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, after he was charged by German prosecutors of deliberately burning a rented villa to the ground last year.

The 22-year-old must answer the charge of aggravated arson, and could be given a custodial sentence for the incident, which occurred last September.

It would be easy to assume the Brazilian was indulging in some boyish hijinks at the expensive property, similar to those that saw Mario Balotelli's bathroom engulfed in flames last year.

But, unfortunately, things could run far deeper than that in the case of Breno, who had been receiving psychiatric treatment before and after the villa was set ablaze.

It is, then, important to urge caution when passing judgement on the actions of Breno, who had reportedly been contemplating early retirement due to a succession of knee injuries.

The former Sao Paulo centre-back has made only 21 appearances for Bayern since his move from Brazil to Germany in 2008, and the psychological impact felt by a sidelined individual cannot be underestimated.

How significant any mental issues suffered by Breno will be considered when the case comes to court is still unclear, but it is difficult to comprehend the turmoil he may have suffered.

The thought of retirement is one that plays heavy on the mind of many professionals, and will be a particularly unattractive prospect for a player as young as Breno.

It can even lead to contemplation of taking one's own life, as former Hull City striker Dean Windass is proof of, having attempted to commit suicide in January this year.

"I have cried every day for the last two years since retiring," he told The People at the time.

"People outside football think we have it all. But I was in a hole that I honestly didn't know how to get out of.

"Just over a week ago I hit rock-bottom and decided to end it all.

"I first took an overdose and when that didn't work tried to hang myself.

"I felt so alone and believed I had nothing to live for."

Such issues in football have been prominent in the news this season, with Windass' revelations coming so soon after the tragic death of Wales manager Gary Speed.

The passing of the former Leeds midfielder was proof that even those who are seemingly riding on a wave of public optimism are far from immune to psychological demons.

It is, then, comforting to know that help is provided to those with suicidal thoughts, with organisations such as the Tony Adams backed Sporting Chance Clinic doing a sterling job to help sportspeople with off-field issues.

Windass has benefited from the assistance he has received from Sporting Chance, and believes that the acceptance and revelation of depression is a vital component of the healing process.

"The hardest thing is to admit you are depressed," he told BBC Late Kick Off Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

"There are a lot of people out there who are depressed and they don't want to come out because of the shame -and that was my concern. I thought: 'I can't come out. What would people think of me?' I'd be weak.

"I thought I was fine and that I could overcome it."

He added: "It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done in life - if you've got a problem or you know somebody who has, then please contact someone."

Windass may not have overcome his problems yet, but is on the road to recovery, and will undoubtedly receive the support of all in the football community during his toughest battle yet.

In the case of Breno, greater clarity will be provided as time progresses, and the severity of any psychological problems are still unknown in the public domain.

It has been a testing few months for the 'football family', and all connected with the sport will no doubt wish a cruel twist of fate does not take another victim.

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