Australian footballer retires at 22 due to social media abuse
"The anxiety that comes with this shit is crazy"
Australian footballer Josh Hope has retired at the age of 22, citing social media abuse as the main reason behind his decision.
The former Melbourne Victory midfielder had been part of their set-up since 2016 but was not offered a new contract at the end of last season.
There was reported interest from other clubs ahead of the next league campaign, which begins in December, but Hope had fallen out of love with the game and decided to call it a day.
Announcing his retirement on Instagram, Hope said: "Well I never thought I’d be typing this one up but here we are.
"Football has been such a big part of my life ever since I can remember. But it’s time for me to call it in, for now...
"It isn’t all smooth sailing and I just wanna put my experiences out there so that if anyone ever feels like they are the only one! Ya not! You aren’t alone!
"The anxiety that comes with this shit is crazy, I never thought it would get to the point it did. I kept pretty quiet about it for a long time but I started to see it creep into my day to day life. And at the end of the day it made me not enjoy my football... at all.
"Critics come with all sports and only the strong survive, (so they say) but some of the shit is relentless.
I was so over being treated like just a ‘player’. We aren’t just someone you see on the TV screen, we are people no different to anyone else. It didn’t just stop after the final whistle, it’s a constant battle with people who are supposedly meant to be supporting you.
"Without a doubt this is the hardest decision I’ve ever made but I hope at the end of it I’m going to come back stronger. Mind and body. And be the player I know I am before this shit took over."