Hanley reveals why City fans left him humbled
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Grant Hanley insisted a player-led £200,000 donation is the ‘bare minimum’ Norwich City can do to help those affected by the coronavirus.
Hanley was a key figure in the gesture from City’s squad, head coach Daniel Farke and executive committee to donate a percentage of their salary, with the club’s owners and directors also contributing to the cause.
Players across the game have come in for criticism over the issue of player wage deferrals, after a week when City and a number of clubs announced their intention to furlough members of staff.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) released a statement on Thursday night making it clear the players’ union ‘fully accept their members will have to be flexible’ and reiterated a desire to reach agreement with the Premier League and EFL.
Hanley, speaking before the PFA response, believes the actions of the City squad illustrate they understand their responsibility.
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“It’s a complicated situation,” he said. “We’ll let those people involved decide what is best to do moving forward.
“I’ve seen some of the stuff that’s been said, but I think as a footballer ever since I started in the game there has always been criticism or a bit of stick for whatever you do or whatever is happening at the time.
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“A footballer needs to have a thick skin and accept whatever is coming your way – good or bad – and not let it affect you too much. The most important thing is to remain professional and do what is best for your club at that time.”
City’s six-figure donation will help individuals and charities affected by the virus.
“I did play a part but the lads are first class and they all understand and appreciate how much this club means to the people and the community. It wasn’t difficult,” he said. “The hard part was phoning people and gathering them all together on this one.
“Since I’ve been here you are made to feel so welcome and you feel like you’re part of something. In times like this you do feel obliged to do whatever you can to help.
“It’s a tough one because you want to get hands on but that isn’t allowed. When we first got sent home and self isolating we were thinking what can we do to help our supporters. That started out with phoning some of our elderly season ticket holders and making sure that we’re getting all the support and the help that they needed.
“We spoke amongst the lads and it is probably the bare minimum you can do, in terms of trying to help the community and help people more vulnerable than us who need the support.”
Hanley described the experience of speaking to vulnerable supporters as ‘humbling’.
“It is something I haven’t done before but I found it really rewarding to hear how much the fans appreciate just having a conversation with you,” he said.
“There was a couple of people I was maybe a little bit worried about so I did a follow up phone call to make sure they were doing all right and it was interesting to see the second time I spoke to them how much more forthcoming they were and excited and saying how they had told the family how much it meant to them.
“That just shows how much the club does really mean and how much we’ve got to step up. The other lads would tell you I am not one for a lot of conversation but it was humbling.”