Everton midfielder Tom Davies stopped caring what was said about him a long time ago but admits it is still his job to prove his critics wrong.
The 24-year-old has endured a complicated relationship with fans since his breakthrough season in 2016-17.
As a Liverpool-born lad his graduation from the academy was something which was celebrated, but, as Everton’s struggles became more pronounced over the years, he found himself the target of abuse as supporters voiced their frustrations at the team’s decline.
His off-field lifestyle – from fashion choices to his love of skateboarding – became a stick with which to beat him, but it has not dented his desire to do well in a successful team at Goodison Park.
“To be honest I’ve stopped reading what people said about me a long time ago,” he told the PA news agency.
“People are entitled to their own opinion and say what they want about me, but I know what sort of person I am and what my morals are through life and football.
“I’m probably at the stage of my life where it doesn’t bother me a lot like it did when I was younger.
“A football career is too short to worry about what people are saying about you.
“I’m very comfortable with the person I am now and the main thing is to take steps you want to take to become the person you want to become and reach the goals you have.
“It’s my job as a player to prove them wrong, which can be tough, but I think I look forward to proving these people wrong and showing what I can do.”
Davies’ off-field interests extend to sustainability and he is a director of ChopValue, a company which recycles chopsticks into products for homes and offices.
It has teamed up with a Yo Sushi! restaurant in Speke on Merseyside to roll out the initiative and that gives Davies something else other than football to think about.
“If you are too full-on with it (football) it can be a burn-out situation,” he said.
“Like I’ve done here with ChopValue, I’ve been able to distract myself in different ways to give me that respite I need from football and to refocus when the time is right.
“In life I want to try to help in the ways I can, speaking on subjects which need to be spoken about or doing something like this.
“If this extends to speaking on other topics then I’m happy to do so. Educating people is a massive thing.
“Maybe one day people will say some things nice about what I’m doing off the pitch.”
Davies had an unwanted respite when he returned home from the club’s trip to Australia in the mid-season break last month with a knee injury before he had even played a match.
However, he is confident of being for the Boxing Day resumption at home to Wolves when the side, a point above the bottom three after five defeats in seven matches, will restart their bid to avoid a second successive relegation battle.
“I don’t think we are thinking we will be involved in it,” he said.
“It will always be in our mind that we need to perform to a better standard than we did last year because we don’t want to get dragged into that, but it is far too early to be getting into those discussions.
“It was always going to be tough, but we weren’t naive enough to think this season would be a breeze and it would be all rosy by Christmas.
“Win a few games and we are in the top half of the table and there are a lot of teams around us, so it is about finding the consistency and getting points on a more regular basis, which we know we need to do and can do.”