Ángel Di María was so hurt by mocking memes that he needed a psychologist
The former Manchester United winger considered retiring from international football.
It's easy to forget that elite footballers are real people with real emotions. Their obscene wages do not create a shell that repels all negative criticism, despite what many people would have you believe.
Former Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria has opened up on how nationwide criticism from Argentina fans affected him mentally during the country's struggles to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Argentina left it late to qualify, relying on a Lionel Messi masterclass in the final qualifier to get them over the line, and the team were subject to a lot of criticism and mockery from fans and rivals alike.
Di María explained to Tyc Sports, an Argentine TV channel, that he considered retiring from international football and that he had to see a psychologist to help with the emotional strain of seeing hateful memes about him and his teammates.
"The memes to the players of the national team hurt us a lot, and it makes you think a lot. If you think about leaving it (the national team), it's because of that, because you see the family suffer."
"To me it helped me a lot psychologist, to talk, to unburden," he added.
"Thanks to that I learned that behind a computer or cell phone is easy to laugh. My head is fine now."
Di María wants to show the world that Argentina are on the same level as Germany and Spain after an unconvincing qualifying campaign, but admits they'll "have to prove it with our play."
Hearing about Di María's struggles is a necessary reminder to us all that footballers are affected by the vitriolic abuse they constantly receive.