Luke Ayling was the the butt of all jokes hurled by Nottingham Forest fans as the Leeds defender was goaded to defend his manhood.
The bizarre incident took place as Leeds United and Nottingham Forest played out a pre-season friendly at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium on Thursday evening. The defender received particularly hostile and inhospitable treatment.
The all whites earned a 2-0 win but it was Ayling who came out victorious for his unflappable composure and sense of humor and sporting candor.
During the game, the Forest supporters targeted Ayling for their taunts and hijinkery. Ayling wears long hair and during the game and was crudely ridiculed for it.
The ground filled Forest supporters belted out the question, ‘Are you a man or a woman?’ at the Leeds defender. In response, the 31-year-old appeared unperturbed by the mockery and took it in his stride. Then, he took sneaked a look inside his shorts, before shrugging off the jeers in a playful manner.
The event was caught on camera and became viral soon after on social media platforms. While the Leeds fans loved the gesture, the overall reaction has been of disgust and horror at the sheer depravity. Here are some of them:
Obviously, it is not the first time the fender has been subjected to such abuse as he has traversed the hierarchy of English football pyramid. He has been singled out for his appearance previously too, as recounted by his former teammates and mangers. However, he has been praised for his bravery and steely resolve to overcome such provocation.
Ayling is a product of an Arsenal team that won the FA Youth Cup and Premier Academy League in 2009 in his first year on a professional contract.
He shared dressing rooms with the likes of precociously talented players like Jack Wilshere. However, after that successful year he left to broaden his skills and exposure and had a spell at Yeovil.
Ayling joined Yeovil on loan towards the end of his 12-month contract at Arsenal. He then signed full-time at his new club as an 18-year-old. The young boy with tresses and a stutter left London and city life.
Ayling was replaced by teenager Archie Gray at half-time of the friendly clash. Leeds went on to beat their Premier League opponents 2-0, courtesy of a pair of second half goals.
Patrick Bamford capitalized on a poor defensive mistake at the stroke of 65 minutes and then Ian Poveda scored with an effort from the edge of the penalty area five minutes from time.
Leeds will begin Championship campaign on August 6, when they take on Cardiff at Elland Road. While Forest, face Arsenal in their Premier League opener on August 12.
Leeds acquired a gem in Ayling in August 2016 from Bristol City for an absolute steal. They paid only £250,000 and even the City manager Lee Johnson confessed that they got that hard end of the stick as he was sold for a pittance.