Australian soccer player retires at 22 due to online abuse

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Josh Hope has quit professional football after being targeted by online trolls
Photo: Instagram/josh_hope76

Former Melbourne Victory midfielder Josh Hope has walked away from professional football at just 22 due to anxiety caused in large part by online abuse.

Hope, a former captain of the Australia U-17 side and also an U-20 international, had been part of the Victory set-up since 2016 but was not offered a new contract at the end of last season.

There was reported interest from other A-League clubs ahead of the next campaign, which begins in December.

However, in a bold and emotional post on Instagram, Hope revealed that he had fallen out of love with the game and decided to call it a day.

Well I never thought I'd be typing this one up but here we are. Some 4 years it's been, the life of a professional sportsman. Geez its been good, the people you meet and the memories I've made, I won't ever forget.

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 isn't all smooth sailing and I just wonna 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. Some of the things I would see not only regarding myself but others was nothing less than abuse. And I'm not talking Football related!

Ofcourse there's going to be clueless people saying the first thing that pops into their head. But when it gets personal, to the colour of their skin, to how they talk, to a haircut. I get it, it's a cruel world but geez if that's how it's going to be I don't want to be a part of it.

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.

In the mean time, I am so keen to focus on myself and spend some time home with family & friends! And ofcourse this cutie. This isn't the end... we only just getting started mf's!

Remember it’s ok to not be ok, no matter who you are.

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