Finn Tapp says Love Island helped him heal after he was dropped from football team aged 18

Finn Tapp has revealed that Love Island helped him heal after he "felt like a failure" due to being dropped as a professional football player aged just 18.

The reality star, 22, has bravely opened up about his mental health battle when he was dropped by his football team in a bid to help other young aspiring players going through the same thing.

Finn was signed by MK Dons when he was just seven years old but was left crushed 11 years later when he wasn't offered the extension of his contract.

Speaking exclusively to OK!, the reality star admitted that he didn't take the news "too well" and it was a "strange time" as his friends were starting their careers and university while he was left thinking: "What the hell do I do here?"

Recalling the time, he said: "It was a strange one, a lot of my pals they had just started a job or they were still in uni and I'd already been told that what I was working towards had been pushed aside from me.

"It was almost like being made redundant at 18-years-old, so it was like: 'What the hell do I do here?'"

Thankfully, Finn had a "brilliant support network" around him at the time, he added: "I've always had a brilliant support network with friends and family, they were brilliant in helping me get through it and sort of helping me look at it in a more clear minded way.

"It certainly wasn't the nicest time, I think just purely because I put so much into it and sort of had this image in my head of where I thought I would be in five years time.

"I think when that didn't happen and when that sort of got put on hold a little bit, I didn't really take it too well. It was sort of a weird adjustment that it did take me a while, I think it took about eight weeks for me to want to play football again."

However, Finn is a firm believer in "everything happens for a reason" and just weeks later, he was offered a contract by Oxford City where he "started falling back in love with football".

And soon after, he appeared on ITV2 show Love Island where he won the winter 2020 series with girlfriend Paige Turley with the loved-up couple recently celebrating two years.

Finn has credited Love Island for helping him heal following the "bad time" in his life and that his past rejection helped him become a "more resilient" person.

He said: "Because the whole football thing was so daunting and quite a bad time, when I came into the whole Love Island experience, I was very much a different person.

"I think it just made me a little bit more resilient, in terms of getting the setback and being able to go back to Oxford City and start playing again.

"By the time Love Island came round, I was in a much better place so I was just taking it in my stride and: 'What will be, will be,' mindset."

Finn also credited Love Island for helping him look back at his past football rejection "positively" and he now sees it as the "best thing that happened" as it led to new opportunities.

Asked whether winning the ITV2 show was a healing experience following his past thoughts of "being a failure", Finn admitted: "In a sense."

He continued: "I never was a person to, you know a lot of people are very: 'Everything happens for a reason', and I wasn't necessarily a naturally upbeat person in terms of looking at things positively and 'everything happens for a reason'.

"But when Love Island happened, I looked back at my time at MK Dons and getting released, I was like: 'That was the worst thing that happened to me at that time' but now when I look back at it, it's the best thing that's happened.

"It meant that I was able to be in a position where I could apply for Love Island and now this has happened. It's definitely widened my eyes to be like: 'Don't be so down when bad things happen because it will just open another opportunity.'

"I'm a firm believer in that now and it did take me a few years to get it but now I do understand it and I look in a more positive mindset at things."

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Finn, who was only with Oxford City for six months before Love Island — with the team offering him a return at any time, has admitted that he was "reluctant" at first to open up about his past football rejection as he didn't feel "worthy enough" due to not having an "established career" in the sport.

He said: "There's such a high percentage of people that will go down the same path I did and not necessarily feel what they wanted to in football and it's just about now, trying to help the young players in that same position of what they do after and perhaps getting released, the challenges they might face coming into a professional environment."

Finn, who has called for more support for young aspiring players, is now working with youth clubs nationwide throughout the year and he recently returned to MK Dons for a youth team session, which was a healing experience.

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