JOE NEWELL used to think getting jeered off at 2-0 down was tough.
Then he was given the chance to bond with an NHS nurse who is on the front line of the war against the coronavirus.
Now the Hibs midfielder knows what pressure really looks like.
It was the brainchild of sporting director Graeme Mathie – and Newell was among the first to volunteer and get dialling.
The 27-year-old was connected to Susan Linn, a nurse on the coronavirus ward at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
She also runs the Kicks for Kids scheme which raises money to provide season tickets to underprivileged young Hibs fans.
The intention was for Newell to inspire Susan but he readily admits that the roles were reversed – and he was the one left feeling humbled by a hero.
Newell said: “I got the chance to speak to Susan and I wanted to give my personal thanks to her and tell her what an amazing job she’s doing.
“She is working within one of the coronavirus wards so, if this is a war against the virus, then she is on the front line.
“I tweeted abut how nice it was to speak to her and she got loads of credit and nice messages, so that was brilliant. She deserves that – and more.
“We had a chat about the situation, the workload and some of the pressures. I just can’t imagine being in that position.
“In a career in nursing, I’m sure she would have been in hundreds or scary, crazy situations.
“But to hear about the personal danger all the NHS staff are putting themselves in, being around this illness almost 24 hours of the day, was humbling.
“That’s real pressure. We think we are under pressure because we are 2-0 down at half-time and getting booed off? Not a chance.
“Although I was supposed to be the one delivering an uplifting call, I was the one who came off the phone in better spirits. It was just really nice to speak to such a positive person at a time like this.”
Newell is also appreciative of the smaller acts of kindness during a tumultuous period for the country.
Hailing from Tamworth near Birmingham, he has the same stresses and concerns as any other person on lockdown far from home.
A family WhatsApp group has allowed his to keep tabs on his nearest and dearest, while he has been in regular contact with his pals down south.
And Newell was stunned when he heard of his barber going the extra mile for his gran, Betty.
He continued: “I got a message from my mate Ryan in Tamworth, who actually cuts my hair when I’m back home.
“He lives two doors down from my grandma Betty and was letting me know that he’d posted a letter to her basically saying ‘if you need any essentials from the shop, give me a call and I’ll get them’.
“He had never met her but she is in her 80s and he just wanted to look out for her.
“So Betty gave him a ring, they chatted for a bit and Ryan went to get her a newspaper and a couple of bits and bobs.
“When I read that it made me smile and I put it in the family group chat. They were blown away by what a nice gesture it was.”
Indeed, Newell is hopeful that, when normal life resumes and he is kicking a ball again, a newfound community spirt will be one silver lining from a traumatic period.
He added: “We are locked indoors and isolated but, strangely, I think we’re seeing a togetherness in this crisis. It feels like we are reading more about goodwill gestures, folk coming together and looking out for each other.
“Maybe that community spirit has not been quite as prominent – especially with my generation – compared to what it was 30 or 40 years ago. There are more distractions now, people socialise and go about their lives in different ways.
“Now is a good chance to rekindle those ideas of looking out for your neighbours, helping those in need and supporting the services we all rely on.”