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Southampton Captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg Tackles Racism, Social Media.

Southampton Captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg Tackles Racism, Social Media.

Social media isn’t for everyone. Some professional footballers enjoy having millions of followers across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook telling them how great they are.

But, and it is a big but, there is another side to social media.

As recently as this week, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was subjected to abhorrent levels of racism for simply missing a penalty.

This prompted United to start forcing Twitter into changing its rules as it’s all too easy for someone to make an account and start firing abuse behind a hidden name.

Saints’ captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg isn’t on social media, but he knew of the vitriol spewed at Pogba and is calling for change.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Hojbjerg said: “I think it’s (racism) an absolute no go. It’s horrible. Racism is horrible.

“You shouldn’t be divided by your colour – the most important thing is your personality and your contribution.

“For me, ethnicity or colour or race or language, that’s not even an argument.

“That’s in any case – not just in football but around the whole world.

“The most important thing is personality and values.”

There have been calls for professional footballers to stage a walkout on social media and not post anything in protest over the lack of action to prevent both racist and non-racist abuse.

The United players came together and urged Twitter to start being proactive when it comes to shutting the trolls down.

And, should any Saints player want to go silent for a period of time online, Hojbjerg says they will have the full support of both himself and the team.

“I will support any cause that we agree on with the team to fight racism,” continued the former Bayern Munich player.

“I will always be supportive of that.”

It’s clear from spending time with Hojbjerg that he is a level-headed individual who shows a level of maturity way beyond his years.

But he doesn’t operate like that.

Saints’ leader knows that having millions of followers won’t make him any better at football or entitle him to a substantial rise on his weekly wages.

While he adores the support from his loved ones and the Saints fans who always get behind him, the 24-year-old prefers to have a sense of normality, despite his profession.

However, he also understands that one half of social media is excellent because it gives people the opportunity to connect with their supporters and keep them updated with what’s going on.

“I think there are two parts of it,” explained the Saints skipper.

“There is the football part of it that isn’t a normal job, but I’m as normal as any other person.

“We have a job, a lifestyle, where people every week on TV, the internet, newspapers and people inside the club will judge and measure you all the time.

“You need to understand that the most important thing is that the people around you have love for you and that you love the people around you.

“It’s the same with the supporters who come and support me and the team.

“After that, if the co-worker in Harrods doesn’t like you because you lost at the weekend and made a mistake, you have to deal with that.

“But, on the other hand, you also know that if you score two goals, he will probably wash your boots. I say it with respect – it’s just the showbusiness we live in.

“On the other hand, there is also the fan side of social media which is something you can give to the people who support you.

“To give to the fans to give them love for the support that I get and that we get. I would love to say thank you and to give back and to show what is important to me and that they are important to me.

“But, on the other hand, I like to see what I see with my eyes.

“It’s a question where I really don’t know what to say because I think as a footballer these days, do you become more valued if you have one million followers? Will the club pay more for you?”

Given that Hojbjerg tends to be one of Saints’ most consistent performers and will continually give 100 per cent, he is often praised on social media.

And, although he won’t be able to see it online, the midfielder prefers to see it with his eyes when he is spotted milling around in Winchester or outside St Mary’s.

He takes the captaincy role incredibly seriously, which was evident that he delayed this interview to speak with a horde of Saints youngsters passing through the Staplewood Campus.

The midfielder is wise enough to realise that he’ll never be able to please everyone, which is why he focuses on the people he can satisfy.

He added: “It’s about being mentally aware that the true support is from your family, the people you love and the fans that love you.

“The rest who don’t like you is something you can’t do anything about. You can’t please everyone.

“But you can do something for the people that appreciate your work, who are there for you and who support you every week.

“If I go on social media, that’s who I want to give my love to.

“The fans who come every single week to St Mary’s, who follow us to the away games and the ones waiting outside the training ground, or if I go down the road in Winchester and people give me a smile, that’s the people I want to give my love to.

“The people who don’t like me, or don’t think I’m a good man or a good sportsman, I can’t do anything about that. That’s something we have to live with.”

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