On Saturday night the Danish paper Berlingske published an exclusive – and it must be said brilliant – interview with Nicklas Bendtner. It was the first time in six months the Arsenal player had spoken properly about events such as when he was arrested for drink-driving, when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and, according to the striker, Arsène Wenger told him that he could not leave Arsenal on transfer deadline day.
The interview was aimed at the Danish public the weekend before the international break – and not, as it appeared in England, on the eve of Arsenal's game against Manchester United. Bendtner wanted to give his version of events to the Danish public but this, alas, is not how it works these days.
Within minutes of the interview, by Thomas Conradsen, being published at 8pm Danish time, the quotes about how he had wanted to leave Arsenal on transfer deadline day had been translated to English and were spreading like wildfire on Twitter. And with that the abuse started.
This is a an example of the tweets that was sent to Bendtner's personal Twitter account within a 38-second period on Saturday night:
"You sure now how to piss in your own cup" – from @AFChound
"Get the Fuck out of our club" – from @EoinAFC
"You're so shit" – from @Aria_Payne1
Piers Morgan also got in on the act, tweeting: "As for Bendtner.... his 'disappointment' at having to continue playing for #Afc is comfortably exceeded by my sickening revulsion."
So why was the 25-year-old Dane worthy of such vitriol? This is what he said about what happened on transfer deadline day: "Everything was in place for me, there were three clubs that were just waiting for me to say 'yes please' to them. I was very disappointed when he [Wenger] phoned because I was ready to move on. I didn't actually think that they wished to keep me.
"As I have been at the club since I was 16 I found it ridiculous that they [had] placed me in the reserves and let me train on my own. [But] suddenly everything was like old times again. I was training with the first team, I was hanging out with the first team and I had a dietician again. From being completely out to being completely in again."
And that was that. A player wanting to leave a club where he thought he had no future and no chance of playing because he had been relegated to the reserves. I can think of bigger crimes. There was one quote in the interview that understandably irked Arsenal fans: "I am training far more seriously [now] than I have ever done in Arsenal. I am in the process of building myself up so that I become this strong machine, this perfect product to sell. I want to start as strongly as possibly in my next club."
It was a naive thing for Bendtner to say and Arsenal supporters, rightly, commented that, if he has been at the club for eight years, then maybe he should have tried a little bit harder before this season. But if anyone read the whole interview a different, more rounded, picture would emerge. The impression I got from reading the interview in its entirety was of a footballer who had been genuinely excited about turning a new leaf and to kickstart a career that had come to a standstill. He is still only 25, remember.
At the Guardian we also just used the sections from the interview that touched upon Arsenal. We published an article early on Sunday with the headline: "Nicklas Bendtner: 'I was disappointed I was told I was staying at Arsenal'"
In the full interview Bendtner, however, also talked about his mother's illness and the joys of being a father. When reading his thoughts on those subjects, the perception of Bendtner as a person changes.
He said: "In my family we are very close and when I was young we shared everything. In an essence by parents were my best friends. The thought that my mum could die was one I wasn't ready to have. I said that in that moment [when he was told his mum was suffering from cancer] and thought about how life would be without her. That would not have been a good place to be.
"To my mum's big credit she was just so calm. Much tougher than I had thought. It made it easier for me to deal with the disease. Instead of being a victim, she took everything as it came. A true fighter. It makes me proud."
Bendtner's mother had chemotherapy and two operations and on 2 March came the news that the cancer had gone away. That, however, was also the night Bendtner was caught drink-driving. "It was completely irresponsible for me to drive with too much alcohol in my body. There is nothing else to say. And the stupid thing was that my friend and I were only going 100 yards down the road. But I was so pleased and happy on my mum's behalf, that I felt invincible at the moment."
Make no mistake, getting in a car drunk is utterly, utterly indefensible. He could have killed someone. Himself, his friend or a completely innocent bystander.
The Dane also talks about being a father to Nicholas, who is almost three years old now. Bendtner is no longer together with Nicholas's mother, Caroline Fleming, and sees him only every other weekend and once a week. "The time I have with him is the time I prioritise the most in my whole life. It hurts every time I have to leave him. And it does him too. I can see that in the way he looks at me when we wave goodbye. I cried when he said he loved me and I never cry. But being a father gives me something I don't get anywhere else."
There is never (or rarely) one side to a story. Bendtner, from a footballing point of view, is not a bad person. He has not let Arsenal down. He has not sat on the bench, just picking up money in a Winston Bogarde-esque way. He is not a shit footballer, like so many people like to say, including @Aria_Payne1. If he were shit he would not score two goals in one game against Italy. He may not be as good as Mesut Özil but that is not his fault.
Finally, a few things to consider:
• Why did Arsenal put someone who has been at the club for eight years in the reserves, if that was the case? Did he not at least deserve to train with the first team? No wonder he wanted to leave
• Why, if Arsenal did really want to sell him, did they not secure a replacement for him before the transfer deadline day? They had had a whole summer to do so.
• The interview was conducted on 29 October, the day after he had been booed by some of his own fans during the Capital One Cup game against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium? Bendtner himself had nothing to do with the publication date.
• Has there been any indication that Bendtner has not done his best for Arsenal every time he has been given a chance this season?
• Does any footballer deserve such abuse for saying that it would probably have been better if he had left the club last summer?
Clearly, any right-minded person would answer no to the last question. So maybe it is time for the section of Arsenal supporters who abused him last weekend and booed him against Chelsea and have made fun of him for a long time to actually get behind him as long as he plays for the club and then, when he leaves in January or June, wish him well at his new club.
But that is probably too much to ask.