Football: Arsenal's Leno says sick Enke comment drove him off social media

Leno dives as a shot from Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (not pictured) goes wide on Jan 30, 2021
Leno dives as a shot from Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes (not pictured) goes wide on Jan 30, 2021PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Arsenal's Bernd Leno has opened up about his experiences with online abuse and says being told to copy compatriot and former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke, who committed suicide in 2009, drove him away from social media.

Former Barcelona, Benfica and Hannover 96 goalkeeper Enke took his own life by jumping in front of an express train after spending several years battling against depression.

"I had a very bad game and then one guy on social media said to me 'do it like Enke'," goalkeeper Leno, 28, told Sky Sports.

"Since I read this I realise that there are so many stupid people on social media. That is the reason I don't read it even when everything is good. I don't need that, it doesn't make me better, it is wasting time.

"There are so many fake people that hide behind their computers to make you feel bad. Many times with racism, abuse to families, I don't like it, I don't read it. It affects your life, what is the point?"

Calls for social media companies to take stricter action against users who send abusive messages have grown in recent weeks after Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, Chelsea's Reece James and West Bromwich Albion's Romaine Sawyers were among a host of players to be targeted.

Instagram last week announced a series of measures to tackle online abuse, including removing accounts of people who send abusive messages, and developing new controls to help reduce the abuse people see.

English soccer's governing bodies, in a joint letter addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, demanded that messages and posts on social media be filtered and blocked if they were found to be racist or discriminatory.