By Joe McHugh
Anthony Stokes has revealed that he considered quitting football after receiving chilling death threats through Twitter.
Personal abuse is par for the course for most celebrities on the social network but for those involved in the Glasgow football scene, an extra sectarian element is ever present.
After five years playing for Celtic, Stokes has become streetwise to the unique environment of playing football in the city but has revealed that one set of threats forced him to call in the clubs' security staff.
“There was a stage where I got four or five threats that I felt I had no option but to speak to the club’s security guys, who reported it to the police,” he revealed in an interview with the Glasgow based Sunday Post.
“An anonymous Twitter account was set up and sent me messages saying I was going to be shot dead as soon as I got back to Dublin.
“They came in over a period of 10, 15 minutes and there was something in it that revealed personal knowledge.
“That was the worst. I don’t know what was behind it. Maybe Dublin was to show they knew where to get me.
“Whatever, it wasn’t just an idiot with a keyboard. There’s nothing really I can do but try and get on with it. I’m certainly not going to accept it.
“People react to what they think is the truth and what they think they know about me. I’ve never gone out to offend anyone and I don’t think I’ve been controversial.
“To a certain extent I guess I am prepared to deal with it but, when my girlfriend and kids get dragged into it you always worry they get targeted.”
Anthony Stokes and Luke Donnelly exchange passes. (MH) pic.twitter.com/DPQ5V9ZeeQ— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) December 18, 2015
He added: “It definitely got to the point when I thought to myself ‘enough is enough’. There will be those out there who will say I have brought this on myself but I don’t believe that for a minute.
“It’s not just about me, it’s about those around me, my girlfriend, my two young sons – they are the ones who suffer the most.
“There have been stages where it’s got dangerous and I’ve had to consider if it’s really worth it.”
Stokes has attracted headlines off the park almost as much as he has with his boots on but earlier this year he found himself front page news in a trial about an attempt to murder loyalist terror chief Johnny Mad Dog Adair who lives in Ayrshire.
One of the accused had approached Stokes in the Brazen Head pub in the Gorbals area with the incident repeated at the High Court in Glagow as Antoin Duffy stood trial.
“I had no idea whatsoever it was coming,” he recalled after finding himself on the front pages of the Scottish tabloids in May of this year.
“When I saw the headline I was being linked to a murder plot I was gobsmacked. Nobody warned me. Not the police, not the Crown Office, nobody and it put me, my partner and my two boys in the firing line.
“To make matters worse my girlfriend was pregnant again when I was thrown into the middle of a terror trial through no fault of our own. That’s extremely difficult to deal with. It’s not something you want hanging over you.
“People forget these stories do affect not just me but they have an impact on my family as well. That’s unfair.
“All this did was pour fuel on the fire and give some people an excuse to make me a target, again when I’d done nothing wrong apart from go to the pub with some mates. I’ve very little recollection of the incident at all.
“It passed over my head completely. If I’m in the pub and it’s busy I might have 100 people come over to me, you don’t recollect every encounter you have on a night out but I was left to pick up the pieces. It was a murder plot, it was in Glasgow, it’s my hometown. I was just left in shock.”
Stokes has been out of favour this season under Ronny Deila and has just returned to training after a two week suspension following a twitter outburst.