Bellerin: I have a thick skin, but abuse can cause self-doubt

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Hector Bellerin’s unique fashion sense is something that endears him to many people, but causes ire in others who, according to the 23 year old, often react with homophobic insults.

The Arsenal fullback says he’s developed a thick skin to deal with the abuse which, he says, sometimes happens in the stadium too and which can cause moments of self-doubt.

The idea that a footballer can separate his interest in things like fashion, or his hairstyle, from his work as a player seems impossible for some people to grasp and and in a revealing interview with The Times (£) he says it’s ‘dangerous’ for people who don’t simply conform to the norms.

He cited his interview with the Oxford Union, saying, “When you do a football interview it is very easy to stick to a formula: ‘We played really well’; ‘Winning is the most important thing’; ‘The three points are the key.’

“But the questions from students were wider. About Brexit, coping with pressure and Catalonia.

“It was great to talk about things beyond the game. Footballers sometimes worry about talking about things like that, in case it is controversial, but I think you should just be yourself.”

And on the invective sent his way every time he posts a picture on social media, he continued, “Some of it can get very abusive. Most of the abuse is online, but you hear it in the stadium too.

“People have called me ‘lesbian’ for growing my hair. There are other kinds of homophobic insults.

“I have learnt to grow a thick skin but it can affect you. Every now and again, you get a bit of self-doubt.”

Bellerin referred to the changes at Arsenal by saying so many players and staff has gone that it feels like a ‘new club’, but he sounds impressed by the new boss and the work he’s trying to do.

“I am impressed with Emery,” he said. “We lost our first two games but we were very close both times.

“After the match, the players could feel that things were coming together. With Arsene, he wanted us to play in the same way regardless of the opponents. The idea was that we could play in our way and beat anyone.

“But Emery is very focused on preparing a plan for our next opponents, whoever they may be. It is very detailed and very professional. The next few months are going to be very exciting for all of us.

“We will reach a higher level.”

If you haven’t already seen it, Hector’s interview with the Oxford Union is well worth a watch. He’s a smart, considered and if you think he’s more interested in clothes than football, this video will put you right.

Video: Hector Bellerin at the Oxford Union

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Ya gooner
Ya gooner

Homophobic behaviour in the stands should not be tolerated, we’re better and classier than that. If there’s a fool next to you in the stadium shouting that stuff have a massive go at them, make them feel like how they try to make others feel.

Goontang
Goontang

Good to hear him admit that Wenger really did think his style of play could beat any opponent which is so naive. The only times we beat the other big 4 is when we sat deep, pressed hard and hit on the counter.

Then as soon as we won a big game like that it was if he completely forgot how we won those games and went back to trying to outpass the next big side and got punished.

It’s simple, we don’t have the funds to compete with the big boys anymore. So take a page out of some of the lower end teams who take points off the big sides and defend deep and trust that our counter attack is so much more potent than those teams.

Jordan
Jordan

If you consider yourself one of the best teams in the league, that isn’t necessarily a bad way to think. My problem with Wenger was that his Plan A wasn’t good enough, not that he rarely tried to go with a Plan B.

If you try something for 3 years and it doesn’t work, try something new. Don’t wait til you get hammered by every other big team in the league multiple times and then panic and come up with a makeshift solution that only lasts about 6 weeks. Where’s the long-term planning?

Jean Ralphio
Jean Ralphio

I think with Wenger’s style of play you can beat anyone but you need one heck of a squad and some talented players. Liverpool will be a test. We can’t always adapt our style of play because we need an identity and fluidity. If we win against the top clubs we will have turned a corner so fingers crossed.

Hantal
Hantal

I don’t care what he does with his clothes/hair/whatever- though some of the time he looks ridiculous- I just want him to be a better player.
Though it does seem that his hair has grown longer as his form has diminished- like a reverse Samson

Gutbukkit Deffrolla
Gutbukkit Deffrolla

If you want to hide your animosity over his hair and clothes I think you will need to try a little bit harder next time.

Happy Harry
Happy Harry

I don’t get the obsession & abuse towards his appearance, but as others have said it’s his inconsistent performances and defensive frailties which draw out the negativity. I definitely feel since he’s switched to a vegan diet he’s lost a bit of his pace/physical edge (his no. 1 asset and often saved him when he inevitably gets caught out of possession)

Skyrsenal
Skyrsenal

Correlation does not mean his diet caused his drop in form.

Happy Harry
Happy Harry

No it doesn’t, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a significant dietary change could’ve had an effect on his physical performance / pace. It’s a more likely correlation than than those that say he’s not been the same since growing his hair. Btw I’m a big fan of Bellerin, not slating him at all.

arseaddict
arseaddict

That one comment which alluded to his diet. Of course.

Aguero is vegan as well and Messi has a largely plants-based diet. Don’t see them being criticised for it.

Thierry bergkamp
Thierry bergkamp

A bit sensitive, aren’t you? The man is allowed to have an opinion. Messi and Aguero have nothing to do with the above comment.

Happy Harry
Happy Harry

I’m not criticising him for it, it’s only an observation. I just don’t see that blistering pace he possessed a year or so ago. Are you a vegan yourself by any chance? They’re often a tad tetchy & very defensive about their diet.

kaius
kaius

Well are you a sports scientist or an elite nutritionist?

Because we actually employ people in those roles at the club. Don’t worry yourself about his diet – he’s just a young guy whose body’s still changing.

Happy Harry
Happy Harry

I have a diploma in nutrition. But hey, I guess with that logic as few of us are fa qualified coaches we forfeit the right to comment or worry ourselves regarding any managerial decisions??

kaius
kaius

Come on dude. With your background knowledge, you should know that his weight, muscle development, sprinting mechanics, and any injuries affecting those mechanics like the ankle injury he suffered from, would be bigger determining factors than simple change of diet.

And you’ll also know that he adopted the vegan diet partly to help him overcome that persistent ankle injury. By then his pace
had already been affected! And it didn’t help that we overplayed him due to Debuchy’s situation.

Happy Harry
Happy Harry

Yes definitely. I agree with you, the ankle injury would’ve been very debilitating to his muscle development and sprinting mechanics. A lot of rehabilitation and recovery needs to take place, I’m not doubting that for a second. What can I say, I’m just not a big fan of the vegan diet, whilst it can work for some in a lot of areas I’ve also seen many athletes suffer a significant drop in performance due to adopting a meat free diet. And eating kilos of meat enabled Usain Bolt to be the fastest man on earth so I’m inclined to believe it to be beneficial for explosive power output if nothing else.

Vonnie
Vonnie

I don’t think it has anything to do with his diet, he lost a bit of pace when he was injured and came back too quickly. I think he was carrying the effects of that for a long time. Also he played every game for two seasons because we only had one right back, which for a club the size of Arsenal was a disgrace. I love Hector and the fact that he has so much personality, and I think he’s going to do well with the new manager.

DarkHorse
DarkHorse

Sad that many those who support the club through thick and thin are fickle enough to throw one of our most talented youngsters, even though he might have had a dip, under the bus with these sorts of insults. It’s those people I am concerned about. And of course trolls and immature people just want join in, but it’s more concerning when ardent fans do this!

PGunner
PGunner

Lets be honest, anyone who calls someone something disparaging and discriminatory without foundation and/or severe provocation, is a prick. But sadly their are many pricks in the world, including a few that have access to nuclear weapons, which I try not to worry about, so apologies for bringing it up. I don’t know where I’m going with this. Peace & love, I guess. Apart from when we’re playing the spuds, then it’s war and you can call Harry Kane a cunt, but not a mong cos that’s mean and wrong if even he is a cunt.

pedro
pedro

Bellerin is exactly the kind of guy I want around the club. He has a tonne of ability, backed up by the fact he has the interest of some of the best clubs in the world. He’s confident, he’s interesting, he’s not harming anyone, he’s a mature guy who is still bloody young in the scheme of things.

The people that give him shit, well guess what.. He’s a much better footballer than you lot are anything else. He’s better st football than you are at being a cunt. How’s that?

Hector comes across as a genuinely good guy, if we don’t keep our criticism reasonable and rational and civilised we deserve a team of Bartons and Terrys.

For the love of Dennis, it’s 2018 and people are using lesbian as an insult. Grow the fuck up.

Sànde Class
Sànde Class

“He’s better at football than you are at being a cunt.” and “For the love of….DENNIS”….you are a legend my finely feathered friend. Despite the fact that you have the username of a footballer I strongly dislike.

Also, WHY THE HOLY BLEEDING HELL is calling someone a lesbian an insult??! Even ill-bred, illiterate, knuckle-dragging homophobes should have evolved by now to love girls/women who dig other delectable girls/women. Geez.

Confused
Confused

Wenger’s gone and yet some still go on about his tactics and methods…weird shit…

Mpls
Mpls

I m one of the first to agree we should move on, but to be fair to others some of the quotes from Hector discussed just that.

So while I think it’s petty to use the opportunity to have a go at Arsene, I really am keenly interested in how the new boss approaches things differently because of the newness.

Lobster
Lobster

Beller. Yours is a special life and yours is a special talent.

The trolls will always be there, but remember if these boys and, sadly, sometimes grown men had done half the things you had at age 20 – moving to a new country, working at the top of your profession in the best city in the world etc – they wouldn’t be so bitter and threatened by your somewhat unconventional way of being (if there is even such a thing in these days of 60-something genders and reality-tv show presidents).

Ignore the haters, keep living your dream and make sure the crosses and cut-backs end up at the feet of another team-mate. Everything else is just background noise and should not be part of the soundtrack that dictates the way you feel and direction of the unconventionally awesome movie of a life you’re living.

Runzac
Runzac

If you focus on trolls and idiots you soon become one. Focus on yourself and your abilities and you might be on to something.

Lord Bendnter
Lord Bendnter

It’s never been homophobic for me. It’s just that I don’t think the long hair suits him. He looks better with shorter hair in my opinion. Of course he can do whatever he wants.

N10
N10

I truly think he’s not being played in the position he should be played in. He’s a 7, not a 2. That’s all I care about, is seeing the guy shine, and it would be great to see Emery try him in that position. They’re the experts, but would love to see that experiment.

Personality-wise I think he’s a really cool young guy. Has his own style, thoughtful. Wouldn’t be surprised if he and Wenger got on brilliantly.

Agree with comments here how unbelievable it is in our times, in a global cosmopolitan sport, that a key player from a London team would be insulted with homophobia. Pathetic.