Jordan Pickford Hires Bodyguards After Death Threats Following Virgil Van Dijk Challenge
Jordan Pickford is being protected by extra security after reportedly being subject to death threats.
The Everton goalkeeper injured Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk with a wild challenge during October's derby game. Given the abuse he's received since, Pickford has felt it necessary to hire bodyguards to protect his family at their Merseyside home, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
The 26-year-old received no punishment for his challenge, which has left Van Dijk requiring knee surgery and facing a lengthy lay-off.
"He could have easily been sent off."- Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 17, 2020
"I'm very surprised it's just been forgotten about?"
Jordan Pickford's challenge on Virgil van Dijk did not look good :grimacing:
Should VAR have stepped in after this? pic.twitter.com/wTcW6CHcIf
Criticism for his actions understandably followed from the likes of Jurgen Klopp, but according to a Mail source: "Jordan has been shocked by the level of abuse he has received since the match. He is determined to do whatever it takes to make sure his family is kept safe."
The result is Pickford utilising a specialist security firm in order to have bodyguards stationed outside the home he shares with his wife and their young son. It's also been advised he stays off social media in case anyone is alerted to their exact whereabouts.
Pickford's teammate Richarlison also angered Liverpool fans with a brutal foul on Thiago Alcantara in the same game, a tackle which saw the Brazilian sent off. His apology simply fuelled the controversy, so staying off social media seems a wise move (at the best of times).
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However reckless Pickford's challenge on Van Dijk was, it's definitely a concern if abuse has grown to a level where the England keeper has felt compelled to take this action.
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher publicly defended Pickford, explaining: "There will be a lot of frustration in the Liverpool camp, Liverpool supporters, maybe from neutrals wanting Jordan Pickford banned. I am going to defend Jordan Pickford on that.
"Yeah, it was a terrible tackle. I've had my leg broken, I nearly broke Nani's leg. These things happen, unfortunately in football, I don't think anyone goes out deliberately to hurt someone."
Van Dijk himself has, as you'd expect, been a model of dignity. His response on Twitter to his serious injury was just to say that he's ready for the challenge ahead and plans to recover and return "better than ever".
The original incident was regrettable in the extreme, but the hope from all parties now is surely to move on, with Van Dijk focusing on his recovery and Pickford not having to worry about his or his family's safety.
All imagery: PA Images
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