‘I’m an easy target as a local lad’ - Cantwell reveals mental struggle after online abuse
PUBLISHED: 15:05 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:57 17 February 2020
Todd Cantwell has spoken of his mental struggle following the intense criticism he received on social media last season.
The 21-year-old academy product has been a revelation for the Canaries in the Premier League after a quiet debut season with City in the Championship.
Following Emi Buendia's dismissal during a 4-0 win over QPR in April, Cantwell was thrust into the starting XI for City's game away at Wigan Athletic.
He started, and was substituted, in a 1-1 draw and came in for some unfair criticism for his display in an experience he still struggles to understand.
"That was a tough time and I really didn't take it well. It made me genuinely not want to be involved," he says.
"I went out there and produced what I thought was a good performance but came off the pitch after the game and received all the stick for everything that went on.
"It was my first experience of being on the other end. I couldn't get away from it. It was coming straight at me.
"My mum [Jackie] would call me and say: 'I don't get why people are saying this, and this.' I'm definitely an easy target as the local lad."
Cantwell's candid admission underlines how social media can have an affect on the performance of footballers, with criticism from fans believed to have played a major factor in the Murphy twins' decisions to leave Norfolk.
The Dereham-born midfielder is hoping to channel that negative experience to help improve his resilience as his career continues to progress.
"In a weird way, I'm thankful for it. Maybe if I didn't have that then, I wouldn't be as strong as I am now.," Cantwell told the Telegraph.
"Maybe I wouldn't be able to perform and ignore everything, because now it's obviously a much bigger stage."
Cantwell has been a major protagonist of City's offensive output this season, scoring six times in 25 appearances.
The England U21 international is behind only Teemu Pukki in the club's goal-scoring charts.
His last goal arrived on New Year's Day against Crystal Palace and the creative midfielder will be hoping to add to his tally as the Canaries face champions-elect Liverpool on Saturday night (5.30pm).