Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno says he was once taunted by a social media user who advised him to commit suicide like the former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke.
Ex-Borussia Moenchengladbach, Benfica, Barcelona and Hannover 96 goalkeeper Enke tragically took his own life in 2009 after battling depression throughout his career.
His story is often referred to when discussing how depression can affect elite sportspeople, and Leno has recalled how Enke’s name was used to taunt him after a bad performance when he played in Germany.
Discussing the impact that abuse and threats on social media often have on elite footballers, Leno told Sky Sports : “Of course I have a lot of experience with that, here and also in Germany. There was one thing that kept in my mind, it was crazy.
“I had a very bad game and then one guy on social media said to me ‘do it like Enke’.
“Since I read this I realise that there are so many stupid people on social media.
“That is the reason I don’t read it even when everything is good. I don’t need that, it doesn’t make me better, it is wasting time.”
There are growing calls from within the game for social media companies to do more to stop the abuse often aimed at footballers, with several high profile players recently revealing the horrific racist abuse they have been subjected to.
“There are so many fake people that hide behind their computers to make you feel bad,” continued Leno.
“Many times with racism, abuse to families, I don’t like it, I don’t read it. It affects your life, what is the point?”