A primary school teacher has described how his life was turned upside down after he managed to seriously injure Manchester United star Radamel Falcao and caused him to miss the World Cup.
One evening a year ago Soner Ertek went from being a part-time defender for little known French side Monts d’Or Azergues to public enemy number one in Colombia. All because of a pretty rubbish tackle against AS Monaco in a Coupe de France tie that his team lost 3-0.
Falcao had already opened the scoring when Ertek jumped in with a challenge as the Old Trafford striker was about to shoot, but landed awkwardly and would take no more part in the game, with it later being confirmed the same would go for the remainder of the season.
It wasn’t until the summer when Falcao admitted he would not be fit enough to make the World Cup squad with the likes of James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado. It was the news that the nation’s football fans were dreading, and they held Ertek responsible.
The defender claims he was subjected to death threats through Facebook, Twitter, via email and some disgruntled fans had even got hold of his telephone number. He described how the attention was almost incessant - he was even depicted online next to murdered Colombia international Andres Escobar.
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“After the game, which we lost 3-0, TV interviewers wanted to speak to me and I understood it wasn’t because of my defensive skills. When I got home to my wife Selvinaz, the phone had already been ringing. It rang and shook all the time,” he is quoted as saying in the Sunday Mirror.
“Phonecalls, e-mails and, above all, Facebook notifications kept coming thick and fast. Some unknown guys made requests to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Guys with Spanish names. It was my story everywhere that whole week.”
Selvinaz described how the initial anonymous phone calls developed into something more sinister, with some Colombian football fans mocking up the death threats next to her husbands image.
Harassed At Home
“We didn’t answer. We saw the calls came from Colombia. They were late calls, after midnight. In the end, we just switched off all the telephones,” she said.
“He was being terrorised on the internet. I saw a picture showing Ertek next to an image of Andres Escobar with the words, ‘The most wanted man in Colombia’. I was shocked and afraid.”
After things started to get a bit heated in his home nation, Falcao publicly absolved Ertek of any blame for the injury and the fervour began to die down a bit. However, the 28-year-old has struggled to find his form since returning from the cruciate knee ligament damage.
His future at Manchester United, where he moved on a £265,000-a-week season-long loan from Monaco in the summer, has been called into question after he was dropped by Louis van Gaal last week against Southampton and missing a number of chances in the victory over QPR this week.