Manchester City defender Kyle Walker has hit back at the tabloid media over harassment and its effect on his family’s health, having been dubbed a ‘serial lockdown clown’ by one newspaper when he visited his sister to drop off a birthday present and his parents to collect some meals.
Walker was photographed by paparazzi at both locations in and around his home city of Sheffield, as well as a third time the following day while out cycling near a flat he is currently renting, separate to the mansion he owns where his former partner and children live.
Someone followed Kyle Walker from 2:45pm to 11pm. That is harassment. All these journalist moaning at him for leaving his house begs the question why are they out taking photos of him? Hypocrisy at its finest. pic.twitter.com/Zm6YjSGYmx
— Index Section (@CitySection) May 8, 2020
The 29-year-old had already made tabloid headlines last month when he broke coronavirus lockdown measures by inviting two women to his home, for which he publicly apologised.
But Walker was also then labelled a ‘repeat offender’ by the same newspaper only a few days later when he bumped into and chatted with neighbour and former England colleague Wayne Rooney while out for a walk when returning to the family home to see his kids.
Declaring that he feels he has ‘no choice’ but to break his silence as a result of the media coverage, Walker posted on social media on Thursday night that while he takes ‘full responsibility’ for this being among the hardest period of his life following the breakdown of his relationship, he now feels that he is being ‘harassed’ by an invasive press pack.
“This is no longer solely affecting me, but affecting the health of my family and my young children too,” the 48-cap England defender wrote.
He continued, “In relation to the events on Wednesday, I travelled to Sheffield to give my sister a birthday card and present, but also to speak to one of the few people I believe I can trust in my life. She hugged me to remind me how much she cares and that I am loved. What am I meant to do – push her away?
“I then travelled to my parents’ house to pick up some home-cooked meals. Again, it’s been an extremely tough couple of months for them: everything I’ve gone through in my life they have gone through with me.
“What have my parents and sister done to deserve their privacy being invaded by photographers following me to their homes? I constantly feel as though I’m being followed.”
Walker added that he no longer feels safe in his own home, adding “Why should they have to feel like that too? Who deserves that?”
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He acknowledged that he is privileged as a result of his profession and insists he does not take it for granted, but asked, “At what stage do my feelings get taken into consideration? My family has been torn apart, this has been dragged through the press, and I ask: when is enough enough?
“At a time when the focus is understandably on COVID-19, at what point does mental health get taken into consideration, an illness which affects every sufferer differently? I am a human being, with feelings of pain and upset just like everybody else.
“Being in the public eye does not make you immune to this. It is sad, but I feel as though my life is being scrutinised without any context. I understand if people are angry or upset with me, but it was important for people to have a better understanding of my life.”
Walker was already facing potential disciplinary action from Manchester City over his first lockdown breach involving two women being invited to his home, but BBC Sport reports that the context and personal circumstance of his trip to Sheffield this week means he will not face further action.