NOT THE HEND OF WORLD
Every player gets abuse these days but I can handle it, insists midfield ace Jeff
JEFF HENDRICK says he can handle the stick he gets from fans.
The Ireland and Burnley midfielder is currently going through a tough time for club and country – left out of Sean Dyche’s side while being a part of Martin O’Neill’s team who are desperately trying to recreate their Euro 2016 form.
While life is not easy, Hendrick, 26, is old enough now to know that a thick skin is needed to cope with life as a pro.
He said: “Anyone will tell you, when I go out and play football I’m calm and nothing really affects me.
“That’s just the way I am as a person so I don’t think too much about it.
“People say the modern day player is soft but what they may not realise is that every player has different hurdles to face throughout their career and that makes them the person they are.
“I think it is a silly comment for people to say that we don’t care or that we’re soft, because at the end of the day, a lot of lads have to leave their family at 15, go away to a different country to try and make it.
“It’s not easy being a professional footballer in England. I think footballers have to be a lot more thick-skinned these days.
“Fans have a lot more access to players through social media channels. Every player gets abuse, that’s just the way it is.
“Everyone has their own right to an opinion and you’ve just got to get on with it because if you don’t, if it does affect you, you can easily crumble.”
The easy advice is that a player should block it out. But Hendrick has a different take on that.
He said: “Block it out how? You see that negativity no matter what.
“These sorts of people can shout whatever they want on social media and we’re told as players that we’re not allowed to say anything back.
“There’s nothing else you can do. Everyone has got their own opinion. I have read bad things about me. You deal with it.”
Some find it easier to deal with than others – Hendrick’s international teammate Cyrus Christie was particularly affected by abuse he got after Ireland’s 5-1 defeat to Denmark in last year’s World Cup play-off. Nothing specific that has been fired at Hendrick has lodged in his mind.
“I couldn’t really quote anything,” he said.
“If you stop, read and dwell on it, that is when it can affect you without you really even noticing. In football, confidence is one of the biggest things you can possess. And without you knowing you can lose it or get it back.
“So reading these sort of comments would affect your confidence without you even knowing.
“It could lead to you going out on the pitch, making one bad mistake and going under.
“The best thing I would say to players is don’t read the good comments or the bad. It’s only the people around you that you need.”
What annoys Hendrick is that the abusive fans tend to be the faceless ones.
He said: “In England, say with Burnley or my last club Derby, whenever you walk past fans they are always fine and respectful.
“Whatever ones it is giving the abuse online, they’re never there. They do it all through their phones. That’s the way it is.
“If that’s what makes these people happy then let them be.”
One thing that would make Hendrick happy would be a result against Wales on Tuesday – gaining revenge for last month’s 4-1 hammering.
He said: “I’ve had a few bad nights in my career, not just internationally but in general.
“That loss, though, was hard to take, especially because it was with Ireland. Our friends, our families, everybody gets to hear about it.
“Not much went right for us on the night. In fairness to Wales, they were very good. Whether we helped them look that good, I don’t know. They had a game plan and it worked. We’ve got to make sure they don’t have it as easy on Tuesday.”