Luke Chadwick opens up on how TV jokes 'stunted his growth as a person'

Former Cambridge United and Norwich City midfielder Luke Chadwick has opened up about the abuse he received in the early stages of his career over the way he looked.

Chadwick was regularly the butt of jokes on BBC's sports quiz show 'They Think It's All Over' after breaking into the Manchester United first team as a teenager.

The gags included punchlines like: "Iron Maiden's biggest hit is Number of the Beast - and if you want to know the number of the beast, Luke Chadwick wears number 36," and "this photo of Luke Chadwick was ruined... when Luke Chadwick turned up."

'They Think It's All Over' used to be broadcast on a Friday night and Chadwick says he'd often dread it being aired - especially because he'd often be playing the following day.

Chadwick played for both Norwich City (left) and MK Dons (right). Credit: PA

"It was talking about spots on my face, teeth sticking out - really childish, playground things" he told ITV News Anglia.

"I think it was the repetition of these things being said over and over again that really affected me and probably stunted my growth as a person for a period of time having to go through that."

In the years when the show was on TV, Chadwick was a rising star at Manchester United.

He then went on to play for Norwich City and MK Dons, before finishing his career at his boyhood club Cambridge United.

A recent tweet he posted on social media urging people to talk about their feelings to "get through the tough times" was liked more than 17,000 times, and he insists he holds no grudges against anyone who made fun of his appearance.

'They Think It's All Over' was hosted by Nick Hancock. Credit: PA

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, who was a team captain on 'They Think It's All Over', wrote on Twitter that he "wanted to apologise to Luke for any hurt caused", while host Nick Hancock told the BBC that he felt "a great deal of responsibility and shame".

However, Chadwick insists he's put it all behind him now and is keen to draw a line under the whole thing.

"I don't want to bring up specific names, and blame anyone for it, because the past has happened," he said.

"In the long run it's probably made me a more resilient and better person for it."

  • Watch an extended interview with Luke Chadwick

Chadwick, who grew up in Cambridgeshire and now lives in Hertfordshire, decided to share his story in the hope it will inspire people be kinder to both themselves and others.

"It gives you so much more confidence (loving yourself) and it gives you the ability to love others more deeply.

"I think it's so important we don't neglect ourselves in these really challenging times."