LONDON (AP) — Jamie Vardy has gone from Premier League champion to a target of hatred.
The Leicester striker said he has received death threats amid the bitter fallout from manager Claudio Ranieri being fired by his club last month.
Vardy was named as one of the players who had conversations with Leicester's owners before Ranieri was dismissed as a result of last season's improbable champions being plunged into a relegation scrap.
Vardy's denials about playing any role in Ranieri's departure have not stopped some fans from targeting him and his family.
"The story is out there and people pick it up and jump on it and you're getting death threats about your family, kids, everything," Vardy said while on international duty with England. "On social media, you name it, walking down the street. To be honest I get them every week. Football fans don't seem to like me."
It's affecting his family, too.
"I just get on with it but when people are trying to cut your missus (wife Rebekah) up while she's driving along, with the kids in the back of the car, it's not the best," Vardy said. "It's happened plenty of times. It is terrifying. All that can happen is they get banned on Twitter. People get cut up but if there's no cameras you're screwed."
Vardy said he tries to ignore the abuse he gets from fans as he focuses on keeping Leicester in the Premier League and prolonging the team's incredible Champions League debut. Leicester is six points above the relegation zone and preparing to face Atletico Madrid next month in the European Cup quarterfinals.
Vardy was spotted by Leicester playing for non-league side Fleetwood Town in 2012. While the 30-year-old Vardy scored 24 goals last season, he has only been on target 10 times this year.
"I just get abuse at every stadium that I turn up at," Vardy said. "To be honest, you are always going to get stick from fans. It is part and parcel of football. I'm one that carries on and winds them up a bit. Do I enjoy it? Yeah, it's just me. I couldn't tell you why I get it, but it's part of the game. I am not really fussed about it. It's fine by me."