Newly minted Minnesota United winger Sam Nicholson is speaking out about online abuse in an effort to share some sage advice with younger players.
If you’ve ever posted anything publicly online, you’ve likely had the unfortunate experience of an encounter or two with a troll.
If you’re one of the hottest stars in the Scottish Premier Leauge, you’ve undoubtedly sparred with more than your fair share of trolling.
"I'll always give people time if they're being nice to me, but the abuse is hard to with sometimes,” said Nicholson to the Daily Record. “As a young boy, I always thought football was - win, lose or draw - about enjoying yourself, but once you get into the first team, you quickly sense the negativity creeping in when you get beaten or don't play well.”
It’s encouraging to read of Nicholson’s growth, even at the tender age of 22, to a place where trolling and opposing fans don’t get under his skin quite like they used to.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t still try.
"What still annoys me is if I go up town for food with my family and somebody says something or shouts something at me. I think to myself 'come on, have a bit of respect,” said Nicholson. “"It just comes with the job now. I don't mind a bit of abuse from Hibs fans or whatever when I'm out on the pitch. I enjoy that. But when it comes to your private life, it's a different story."
Nicholson has been living in the spotlight for years as a rising Scottish product for Hearts. Though 22 years of age is still relatively young for a soccer pro, he’s had years in the academy and professional system to get used to the clamor and chaos that comes with playing for the first team.
Looking back, he has a small piece of advice for younger players looking to follow in his footsteps.
"I used to bite back and tweet stupid stuff, and it's the worst thing you can do because it gets you a reputation for being an idiot,” he said. "Not everyone is strong enough to handle it. Sometimes you come home thinking you've had a great game and somebody tweets you saying 'you were terrible, today' and when you're young, it can take the wind out of your sails."
Sam Nicholson recently joined Minnesota United on a two-and-a-half year deal when the MLS Secondary Transfer Window opened on July 10th.
Look for Nicholson to feature heavily in this weekend’s friendly against Liga MX side Atlas FC.