Sheffield United goalkeeper, Dean Henderson, has spoken frankly about some of the personal abuse he has encountered as a footballer in his career.
The Manchester United youngster is currently enjoying a second spell at Bramall Lane under Chris Wilder. He has excelled with the Blades, too, helping United to promotion last term and to a solid Premier League start this year.
Henderson has already kept five clean sheets this season. His form has also seen him earn a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England set-up.
But despite his success in a Blades shirt, Henderson has revealed that there is a darker side to the game that has affected him. Speaking ahead of this weekend’s visit of Aston Villa, the stopper was open in his discussions about fan abuse he has received.
“Certainly last year at Hillsborough and Elland Road. It wasn’t a pleasant time for me or my family because a lot of the accusations were completely horrendous,” Henderson said (James Shield, Sheffield Star).
“If it was racism people would be getting banned from stadiums. For me, coming from a good family, it’s the worse thing you can ever be called.”
Despite the abuse, Henderson still managed to keep an impressive 21 clean sheets as United eventually romped to second place ahead of Leeds United.
Why did Dean Henderson come in for some abuse from supporters?
Without going into too much detail, there were rumours circulated online about Henderson’s personal life. These rumours were then taken by some fans as gospel and the situation escalated from there.
Henderson, as he states, was therefore the victim of plenty of stick and abuse at away grounds. Furthermore, following the Blades’ draw with Sheffield Wednesday, Henderson moved to delete his Twitter account.
This is the first time, then, that the Blades stopper has addressed such issues. And he went further in his comments, explaining how he kept his cards close to his chest.
“I’d go back to my apartment and think ‘how has this happened to me’. Only my girlfriend knew how much it really affected me,” Henderson added.
“For me, as a young lad, nobody speaks about having to take that negativity. For a lad of 22, people don’t realise what I went through last season.”
There really is no place for this sort of abuse in football. Dean Henderson, then, has taken a positive step here in speaking out against such comments.