Luke Chadwick has opened up on the torment he suffered throughout his career for the way he looked.
The former Manchester United player, who came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford, was often the butt of the jokes when it came to his appearance.
Running jokes on the BBC panel show ‘They Think It’s All Over’ were relentless and made people think it was acceptable to openly mock him.
It led to Chadwick suffering from anxiety and self-confidence issues.
The 39-year-old posted on social media about the mental health problems he suffered during his playing career as a result of the abuse he received.
He wrote: “As a young footballer the abuse I received about my appearance affected my mental health a lot. The feeling of embarrassment stopped me talking about how I felt.
“Although uncomfortable at times, it’s so important we talk about our feelings to get through the tough times!”
In an interview with The Athletic, he explained just how much it affected him over the years.
He said: “I was always so anxious about going out. Even if people didn’t say anything to me, I was worried they were thinking that about me or that someone might say something. All I would really do was go training, then come home and stay in my flat. And if anyone asked me if I was all right, it was always, ‘Yeah yeah, I’m fine, it’s just what I want to do’.
“I remember the first time and someone texting me to say, ‘Nice appearance on They Think It’s All Over’.
“I was so shocked because I was quite naive back then, even if I was playing occasionally for Manchester United.
“I’d been brought up in a little village south of Cambridge where nothing really happened. I never realised I was famous and that people knew who I was.
“Then more people started talking about it. I watched it the next week and I could see people laughing at these jokes about me.
“It was obviously funny to other people but, to me, it didn’t feel like that. It was on every Friday and then the next day, when the game was on, it was fresh in people’s minds.”
“I have always asked myself whether I should have tried to speak to them (the BBC) about it. As a 19 or 20-year-old boy, would it have been possible to speak to someone at the BBC and stop them talking about me? Or would they have carried on anyway? You’d like to think it would have stopped. But I don’t know. At the time, it was just accepted.”
Chadwick was at Manchester United from 1997 to 2004 and won a Premier League medal during the 2000/01 campaign.
He went on to play for West Ham, Stoke, Norwich, MK Dons, and Cambridge before retiring in 2015.
At MK Dons he was named their player of the season in the 2009/10 and 2010/11 campaigns.