Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick revealed how cruel jokes about his appearance on the BBC television show They Think It’s All Over “have stunted his growth as a person.”
The popular show, led by comedian Nick Hancock and starring guest captains, including Gary Lineker, made fun of Chadwick week after week.
And Chadwick, a teenager trying to break into Sir Alex Ferguson’s first team at Old Trafford, revealed how the jibes have drained his confidence to the point where even shopping has turned into an ordeal.
Manchester United player Luke Chadwick was the subject of cruel jokes about his appearance on the BBC show They Think It’s All Over
They Think It’s All Over was a sports-based satirical talk show hosted by Nick Hancock (center) and starring Gary Lineker (right), David Gower (left), Jonathan Ross (top left) and Rory McGrath (top middle))
Chadwick has since wondered if he should have spoken to the BBC and asked them to stop the jokes about his appearance.
He told The Athletic: “When they started bringing it [my appearance] up, they brought me to the attention of millions of people.
“I remember the first time and someone texted me and said, ‘Nice appearance on They Think It’s All Over.’
“I was so shocked because I was quite naive at the time, even though I played occasionally for Manchester United.
“I watched it next week and I could see people laughing at these jokes about me. It was obviously funny for the others but for me it didn’t look like that.
Chadwick was a teenager at the time and left “hoping and praying” that he would not be mentioned
Chadwick said jokes about his appearance meant that even a trip to the stores could be an ordeal
“After that, I dreaded every Friday. Anyway, I wasn’t an extremely confident guy and that only made things worse. I was half looking at him, hoping and praying that they would stop. But they never did. It went on and on.
“I always wondered if I should have tried talking to them [the BBC] about that. As a 19 or 20 year old boy, would it have been possible to talk to someone on the BBC and stop them from talking about me? Or would they have continued anyway?
“You would like to think it would have stopped. But I do not know. At the time, it was simply accepted.
Chadwick, 39, then played for West Ham, Stoke, Norwich, MK Dons and Cambridge United after leaving Old Trafford in 2004 after playing 39 matches with the first team.
He remembers that Hancock asked him for an autograph after a game at Stoke, but no excuse for the torment was to come.
Chadwick played 39 times in Sir Alex Ferguson’s first united team while at the club
Chadwick lifted the Premier League trophy with United in the 2000-2001 season
Although Chadwick has no animosity towards the panelists who made jokes about him, some still suffer.
He said: “One of the disappointments was that, as a kid, I remember watching England at the World Cup and Lineker was one of the heroes on the team.
“So hearing him say negative things about me, even if it was something stupid about my appearance, was sad for me.
Chadwick says the insults from the TV show encouraged football fans to mistreat him during games and left him “worried about going out” and a recluse of his teammates United.
“It was all about my appearance and the way I looked at the field,” he said. “I just found it very difficult to manage. I was a very calm and shy boy. I didn’t talk much anyway and it really stunted my growth as a person.