It was never the criticism on social media that Robbie Kruse cared about, it was that of his teammates and coaches.
The Socceroos winger was the target of abuse by online trolls during Australia's 2018 World Cup campaign but has received nothing but support from his peers for his performances.
Speaking for the first time since the tournament, Kruse says he paid little attention to the abuse and threats targeted towards him despite being disappointed at being made the scapegoat for Australia's goal-shy attack in Russia.
Scapegoat: Australia’s Robbie Kruse is appreciated by his teammates. Credit:AAP
"Social media gives really unimportant people [a chance] to voice their opinions," Kruse said in Kuwait. "It's really not important for me, I listen to the people who I need to – my family, my coaches and most importantly my teammates. If they're disappointed in me then I'd be more affected but they're really happy with the way I do things. I do a lot of stuff that some people don't notice on the football pitch. My teammates really value that in my game."
The 30-year-old started in all three of Australia's World Cup games and has been a regular for the national team for nine years.
Kruse has overcome major injury setbacks to amass 67 appearances for the Socceroos. And he made no secret of his displeasure at being targeted for Australia's inability to score from open play against Peru, Denmark and France.
"Obviously it's not nice but I've learned to deal with it, I'm not a kid anymore," Kruse said. "It comes with the nature of playing football. To be honest, I don't really read too much into it. Obviously, I heard of it through some of the boys. You go through ups and downs through your career. When I was at Leverkusen I copped it a bit because I was coming back from injury and you're not quite at the top of your game again."
Kruse is set to start for Australia in Tuesday morning's (AEDT) friendly against Kuwait in what will be the first Socceroos game under the guidance of new coach Graham Arnold.
And in a sign of the high regard in which he's held by the national team's coaches and players, Kruse has also been appointed to the leadership group from which the new long-term captain will be chosen.
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