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David Meyler dissects the toxic dangers of social media

Former Republic of Ireland captain David Meyler discussed the challenges posed by social media an...

David Meyler dissects the toxi...

David Meyler dissects the toxic dangers of social media

Former Republic of Ireland captain David Meyler discussed the challenges posed by social media and those who use it to attack others online. 

In a week where an Irish judge ruled on the case of an 18-year-old Kerry native who sent a series of racially abusive messages to Ian Wright, David Meyler, the former Ireland and Premier League footballer, detailed his own experience of dealing with online abuse.

An underage player at Sunderland on the brink of the first-team, the Cork native recalled how the validation and excitement of positive comments could turn with alarming speed.

"I had played in the reserve team and we'd won the reserve league," he explained on Saturday's Football Show. "It was fantastic, people messaging me to say I was going to be the next first-team player. At 19, it was brilliant.

"When I broke into the first-team then that was great and then I was sent-off which was the first time I had a serious issue. By God was I attacked! Thousands upon thousands of messages filled with all different kinds of abuse.

"I remember I confided in my father and he just kind of asked me why I needed [social media], what was it for."

As David Meyler has detailed in previous discussions with OTB Sports and indeed a special roadshow in his native Cork, the relationship with his father John has been central throughout his playing career.

Despite the tremendous respect he has for his father and what John Meyler has achieved in hurling, the former Premier League midfielder likened the necessary development of that relationship to how he began viewing the commentary of countless online 'keyboard warriors.'

"You start to second-guess yourself," he admitted, the deluge of negative comments that can cut through occasionally giving Meyler cause for concern. "It was only as I got older and matured that [I stopped thinking that way.]

"Around the time penny dropped was actually when I played a game for Hull after I just signed and my Dad had flown over for the game."

As he recalled it, Meyler's manager Steve Bruce had singled him out for praise after the performance and he expected something similar when he met his Dad afterwards for a chat.

"My Dad battered me," he explained. "He was saying, 'You could have done this, that, you should have been in the box here...', he went over everything and it was a real wake-up call for the both of us.

"He is someone I respect and trust and I really value his opinion, but he didn't actually matter here. At the end of the day, my manager was really happy with my performance and he was going to pick me again next week.

"I started to realise that even my own father's opinion doesn't matter as much as the manager's and then like these 16, 17, 18-year-olds who might attack me online, it doesn't really bother me."

David Meyler

In addition to his reputation as a footballer, David Meyler became exposed to an even greater number of people on account of his prowess at the FIFA football video game.

"I got hundreds of messages every week telling me I'm this or that type of footballer," he noted, citing the almost endless run of abuse he would receive.

"There social media companies, they need to be held responsible. When we talk about the Ian Wright thing, that lad lost a game of FIFA and he felt it was OK to racially abuse Ian Wright.

"It is 2021, stuff like this shouldn't happen and he should have been punished, they should have made an example of him. If his mother or father are listening it is tough to hear, but they should have.

"I could go on all day talking about this... I've posted images of my children and people will make references about her and you think, what kick are you trying to get out of this?!"

You can watch back David Meyler and journalists Johnny Ward and Daniel McDonnell discussing this topic in greater detail here 

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David Meyler Hull City John Meyler Reading Republic Of Ireland Steve Bruce Sunderland