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Crystal Palace star Leigh Nicol reveals hell over having iCloud hacked and private images leaked to adult sites

CRYSTAL PALACE midfielder Leigh Nicol has opened up on her traumatising experience of having private images leaked online.

The Scot, 25, took a year out of the game and shut her social media accounts after the terrifying discovery in the spring of 2019.

Leigh Nicol has revealed her trauma at having private images leaked online


Leigh Nicol has revealed her trauma at having private images leaked onlineCredit: Getty Images – Getty

And Nicol is now ready to speak out on her experience in a bid to help others educate themselves on the adult online world.

She told Sky Sports: “The sickness was extreme.

“It was a mixture between having a panic attack and being sick. It got to the point where there was nothing to sick up and that went on for weeks.

“When I take myself back to that place, I can still feel the sickness in my tummy.

“It was a vicious cycle. There was never a point where I was sitting there and feeling calm.

“There was always some form of emotion, whether it was sickness, anxiety, sadness or tears. It was absolutely atrocious.

“I still suffer with anxiety. I still have moments where I cannot get out of bed. It could be something so stupid that triggers me and puts me in a bad place again.”

Nicol was a star of the Celtic academy in her teens before a move to Arsenal in 2013, which was followed by stints with Reading, London Bees and Millwall.

People watch these videos and do not realise the damage to people’s lives.

Leigh Nicol

After being told of the leak, she suffered from suicidal thoughts and panic attacks.

Therapy sessions were organised by the PFA and she hopes to use her experience to raise awareness.

Nicol continued: “It is just about educating people.

“I did not even know this was a thing. I had always assumed that the people in these videos put it out there themselves and I was OK with that.

“It did not really cross my mind that this could be anyone. There is ignorance. I was ignorant.

“People watch these videos and do not realise the damage to people’s lives. They are giving these websites a lot of money with their views, their sharing and their downloading but there are victims here.

“The damage is done for me so this is about the next generation. I feel like prevention is better than someone having to react to this.

“I cannot change it alone but if I can raise awareness to stop it happening to others then that is what I want to do.

Nicol has described her return with Crystal Palace as 'key'


Nicol has described her return with Crystal Palace as ‘key’Credit: Getty Images – Getty

“There are situations where these websites have underage kids on them, for example.

“The more that you dig into this, the more traumatising it is because there are 14-year-old kids on these websites and they don’t even know about it.”

Nicol continues to suffer abuse online as a result of the leak and admitted she is still ‘a work in progress’ from overcoming the severe anxiety the episode has caused.

But a return to football with Women’s Championship club Crystal Palace has been a godsend, particularly after a number of teams turned her down after hearing of her past.

She noted: “Football has been the key to my recovery.

“I am so grateful that I have found a club like Palace that allow me to be myself. They have supported me as a human being.

“They didn’t really care about the past, they just offered me an opportunity to get fit and train by following their off-season programme.

“I loved it from the moment I came back in pre-season because I was so proud of the place I had gotten myself to physically.

“From the moment I walked through the doors, I have not looked back. When we got the first win and first clean sheet, that is when I remembered there was no better feeling in the world.

“I had missed that emotion.”

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