Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has reportedly hired bodyguards to protect him and his family after being targeted with death threats for injuring Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.
The England star has hired a specialist security firm to create a “ring of steel” around his family and bodyguards have been deployed to his home in Cheshire, it was reported in the UK media.
A source is quoted as saying: “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.”
Pickford and his family have also been advised to avoid using social media, in case they inadvertently give away their location.
“How has it come to this?” one account asked on social media, while another shared a photo of Pickford alongside his wife, Megan Davison, and their one-year-old son alongside the caption: “All our love and support Jordan Pickford.”
One fan wrote: “Horrible to read that about Pickford and his family needing personal security. Modern football really is a grim place sometimes.”
Jordan Pickford has been forced to hire bodyguards to protect him and his family after receiving thousands of death threats following his tackle of Virgil Van Dijk in the Merseyside Derby.How has it come to this? 😩😳 pic.twitter.com/spt7HFn5Ji
— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) October 28, 2020
Merseyside Police confirmed after Everton’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool on October 17 that they were investigating threats made to Pickford and racist abuse aimed at his teammate Richarlison.
In a statement, they said: “The language used in the tweets is totally unacceptable and we are taking the reports extremely seriously.
“Those who use the internet to target others, and who commit criminal offences such as making threats or committing a hate crime in doing so, are not beyond the law.
“Detectives are making inquiries to identify the individuals who posted the tweets and where we identify offences we will take action to bring those responsible to justice.”
Pickford escaped sanction for a wild challenge on Van Dijk, who will require knee surgery and is expected to be out for around six months after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Meanwhile, Richarlison was sent off for a lunge on Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard has also suffered a knee injury which has kept him out of the Reds’ last three games.