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Bacon's Bites: My apologies to Eden Hazard... But we are all guilty aren't we?

Chelsea's Eden Hazard applauds the fans at the end of the UEFA Europa League semi final, first leg match at The Frankfurt Stadion, Frankfurt. Have you ever met Eden? Photo: PA

Chelsea's Eden Hazard applauds the fans at the end of the UEFA Europa League semi final, first leg match at The Frankfurt Stadion, Frankfurt. Have you ever met Eden? Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Mike Bacon brings you more of his sporting thoughts - And a lesson learned!

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea shakes hands with Chelsea's Eden Hazard after the Premier League match at Old Trafford this season.Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea shakes hands with Chelsea's Eden Hazard after the Premier League match at Old Trafford this season.

Now, be honest!

How many of you have opinions on sports stars you have never met?

Come on, hands up.

Players/managers/officials you take a pop at, yet have never met them, let alone ever spoken to them.

You know what I mean.

“Can't stand Pogba. He's got a terrible attitude.” – Man in pub on third pint who no doubt spends hours in Pogba's company – NOT!

“Joe Root can't motivate players.” – Fan who is always in the England dressing room before each Test match listening in to Root's team talk – NOT!

“Serena? She's not popular with the other players.” So says all-knowledge tennis boff who goes to Wimbledon once a year and loves Twitter! – WRONG AGAIN.

But that's the way we are.

When it comes to sport, opinions rule. We can't help ourselves, even if our thoughts are without substance or foundation.

The world's gone mad!

The garbage on social media, the dramatic newspaper headlines, the phone-ins, the podcasts. We lap it up.

Birmingham City's Liam Ridgewell and West Ham United's Kieron Dyer go head-to-head.Birmingham City's Liam Ridgewell and West Ham United's Kieron Dyer go head-to-head.

And it's not all true you know!

For me, fake news is one of the biggest scandals of the last decade.

I'm no Donald Trump lover, but he ain't got it all totally wrong!

I say this because I learned a bit of a lesson myself not long ago.

I should have known better than to voice my thoughts on someone I had never met, especially as I'm a good friend of Kieron Dyer and have had to listen to lots of people who know this about him, know that, saw him do this, saw him do that. How much his cars cost, how big the stamp collection he doesn't have, is!

Incredible knowledge. Even more impressive when I ask them how many times they have met Kieron!

Anyhow, I digress.

My story is about Eden Hazard, the skilful Chelsea play-maker who, for what it's worth, I rate as one of the best, if not the best, player in the Premiership.

I've never met him, but I imagined him as being a bit prickly with the press – a few big time Charlie traits, etc. It's the perception I've gained watching him play. Great player, high maintenance, a little bit stroppy on the pitch it appeared to me – Or so I thought.

I was recently corresponding with former Ipswich Town press officer, Jonny Ogle, now a Chelsea Editorial Executive, for a feature in our Kings of Anglia magazine (next one out in a few weeks BTW).

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Hazard's name came up and I (armed with my plethora of knowledge of him picked up from social media), grunted something like, “bet he can be a bit surly with the media?”

Valencia's Mouctar Diakhaby (second left) scores his side's goal against Arsenal on Thursday night. The game has been marred by more racist incidents. Photo: PAValencia's Mouctar Diakhaby (second left) scores his side's goal against Arsenal on Thursday night. The game has been marred by more racist incidents. Photo: PA

To which Jonny put me straight.

“Mike, Eden is excellent to deal with and does any media requirements you ask of him,” Jonny said.

“He gets inundated with requests but it doesn't bother him and he's happy to do interview after interview.

“There have actually been times when he's had to dash off to pick his kids up from school, before returning to do an interview!”

That me put in my place!

Social media can be fantastic, it can also be extremely dangerous as we are finding out.

Town fans deserve a good summer break. Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comTown fans deserve a good summer break. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Almost all my knowledge on Hazard was from social media, but isn't that the way of the world today... Opinionate and be damned.

So, I apologise to Eden Hazard for my thoughts of him without substance. Not that he'll read this and I don't blame him.

Makes you think though doesn't it?

The next time you are taking a pop at a sportsman or woman, just take five, and ask yourself how you found them when you actually met them.

More racist behaviour at a football match but no doubt the authorities roll their eyes and slap out a few fines.

Arsenal say they “utterly condemn” the behaviour of a group of Valencia fans who appeared to make Nazi salutes and monkey gestures at Thursday's Europa League semi-final at Emirates Stadium.

A video emerged of the incident.

Yes, clubs will condemn, yes, fines will be handed out to the guilty sides. But little will change.

What we really need is clubs kicked out of competitions, or league points deducted.

That would focus a few minds.

I'm sure Ipswich Town fans are looking forward to a summer break.

But I'm not worried about the players having too long away. It was in their hands to do something about what eventually turned into a horror show season.

No, it's the fans I feel sorry for. They deserve better.

I hope the players are back in pre-season training sooner rather than later.

They have much to put right.

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