Harry Arter was left considering his future in the Ireland national team after being victim to “vile” messages on social media due to baseless rumours suggesting he was considering switching allegiance to England.
The in-form Bournemouth midfielder has won three caps for Ireland, but is still free to play for the country of his birth because he hasn’t featured in a competitive match. He insists that him opting to move to the Three Lions was merely paper talk, though.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” the London-born 26-year-old told the Sunday World’s Kevin Palmer.
“This was Irish people who had looked at a few newspaper stories and come to the conclusion that I was about to go and play for England. I never said that was happening and my stance on the whole story was that I didn’t need to comment on something that was little more than a rumour.”
Rather than the backpages being forgotten and becoming tomorrow’s fish-and-chips paper, the keyboard warriors came out in force and believed that Arter had gone ahead and controversially stepped away from Martin O’Neill’s squad.
“Then I see these Twitter messages and, honestly, it was the only time that I have ever had a thought that maybe I shouldn’t play for Ireland,” Arter explained.
“The messages were just vile. I was shocked by what people were sending my way. Honestly, I had to check that someone had not hacked my account and put a message on there to inspire this reaction.
“A lot of the messages have now been deleted, which says all you need to know bout the people that thought it was a good idea to write them in the first place.”
A groin injury left Arter unavailable for Ireland’s 1-0 defeat of Georgia on Thursday, and Sunday’s 3-1 win in Moldova. This means that – whatever the assertions are from the Cherries’ man – Arter’s international future is still up in the air.