Female soccer player Leigh Nicol opens up on trauma at sex tape leak

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Female soccer player Leigh Nicol opens up on trauma at sex tape leak
Photo: @lnics17

Crystal Palace women's player Leigh Nicol has spoken out about the distress caused by having her phone hacked and private videos posted on X-rated websites.

The incident occurred back in the spring of 2019 when an iCloud breach resulted in her private content dating back to 2014, when Nicol was just 18 years old, appearing on adult websites.

The trauma of the experience sparked bouts of sickness, depression, dramatic weight loss and contemplating suicide.

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Nicol has now opened up on the ordeal in the hope of raising awareness to others who have been through a similar ordeal.

I was seen as the one person people knew who had no problems. I was just Leigh, the happiest person they knew. Even if you met me now you would say I was a happy soul. You would not know that I was broken.

The damage is done for me so this is about the next generation. I feel like prevention is better than someone having to react to this. I cannot change it alone but if I can raise awareness to stop it happening to others then that is what I want to do.

It is just about educating people. I did not even know this was a thing. I had always assumed that the people in these videos put it out there themselves and I was OK with that. It did not really cross my mind that this could be anyone.

There is ignorance. I was ignorant. People watch these videos and do not realise the damage to people's lives. They are giving these websites a lot of money with their views, their sharing and their downloading but there are victims here.

I can understand why people kill themselves over it because I do not know how I managed to get through it. It took a change of perspective and a group of people around me but it took time. There was a rota of people to make sure I was never alone. Without those people around me, would it have been different? One hundred percent.

Nicol was forced to close her social media accounts temporarily, and has now blocked more than 350 people due to abusive comments.

I still get comments. There is at least one comment a night. It is normality for me now and that hurts. It is just heart-breaking. I am recognised for that one thing.

Nicol was a star of the Celtic academy in her teens before a move to Arsenal in 2013, which was followed by stints with Reading, London Bees and Millwall.

What did it is the fact that I play football. That is the reason it got so big.

No matter where I go I cannot escape it. It is there in the industry. Every corner I turn. Everyone knows.

I have nieces and nephews who are getting to that age where they are very proud of me and want to Google me. But you cannot Google my name without it being attached to dirt.

But a return to football with Palace has been a Godsend, particularly after a number of teams turned her down after hearing of her past.

Football has been the key to my recovery.

I am so grateful that I have found a club like Palace that allow me to be myself. They have supported me as a human being. They didn't really care about the past, they just offered me an opportunity to get fit and train by following their off-season programme.

I would literally run through brick walls for Crystal Palace - as you can see from the broken ankle. That just tells you where I am at. I want to stay here for the rest of my career.

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