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‘I hope your son gets coronavirus’: Troy Deeney reveals abuse he’s suffered after speaking out on Premier League restart

Watford captain Troy Deeney says he has been abused both in public and online for expressing concerns about the Premier League’s attempts to restart the season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Deeney told CNN Sport that people online have been wishing ill on his five-month-old baby, who was born prematurely and has breathing difficulties, while people on the street have told him to go “back to work.”

“I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona[virus],'” Deeney told CNN Sport. “That’s the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: ‘Ah, we’ve got him’ and they keep doing it.”

Clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to resume contact training, stage two of the league’s ‘Return to Training protocol,’ though the Premier League later announced that four players and staff from three clubs tested positive for Covid-19.

Deeney has been one of several high-profile players to publicly question a possible resumption and says he has privately received support for his views. However, he believes the backlash he and other outspoken players have received means other footballers maybe fearful of talking about their concerns.

“In a time where it’s all about mental health and everyone says: ‘Speak up, speak out, please speak,’ Danny Rose spoke out … and I spoke out and we just get absolutely hammered and battered for it,” adds Deeney, referring to the England defender’s comments on ‘Project Restart.’

“So people see that and go: ‘Woah’ and it’s not just us that gets it, the missus gets direct messages and you’ll be walking down the street and people will be like: ‘Oh, I’m at work, you go back to work.'”

Messages of support

With Watford siting precariously near the bottom of the Premier League, Deeney says much of the criticism he received was accusations of wanting the season to be canceled so his club could avoid relegation.

However, once players from teams at the top of the league — including Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante — began voicing their concerns, Deeney felt public opinion began to change.

“Personally, I just think this is showing me that the players have so much power if they actually all came together,” he says. “That’s what this is showing me. I’ve had a lot of messages of support from people that I wouldn’t normally — well, that I didn’t even know had my number for a start.

“But certainly from players from bigger clubs and that shows me that I must be doing something right because I’m just a little old Troy from Watford and everyone seems to listen to what I say.”

Since he first spoke out, much of the narrative has been framed as ‘Deeney vs. the Premier League’ but the striker speaks highly of how the organization has tried to allay his fears.

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