Strictly favourite Alex Scott was left terrified after being sent chilling death threats.
The ex-England ace, 34, has become a target for racist and sexist trolls online.
A wave of taunts started after she became a TV football pundit.
And opening up about her ordeal, she today reveals the abuse has been relentless.
Alex told the Daily Star Sunday: “This past year has been so tough… making that transition to being a pundit. There has been a lot of abuse.
“I have had all of it — for being a woman on TV, for being a woman of colour on TV, people saying I’m ticking a box, death threats. I have had the lot.
“It’s not that I wasn’t expecting it, because I know how social media is. But it was over a prolonged period of time and the abuse was getting worse all the time. And my mum was worrying. That’s when it really got to me. I didn’t know what to do. I felt alone in the process.”
Alex has always had a confident persona but the online hate was so bad she was scared to speak out for months.
She added: “The character that I am, I didn’t want to put that on anyone. I didn’t want my mum to worry. So I was just carrying on going to work and doing what I was doing.
“I didn’t want to be that female that is seen to be complaining about my new role. I thought, ‘OK, keep doing it, don’t let anyone know, and then at the end of the season that’s when you say what you’ve been going through’.”
Defiant Alex, who has emerged as the early favourite to win Strictly, is refusing to let the trolls win.
Even after months of abuse, she’s seeing her experience in a positive light.
She said: “The abuse I was getting on social media was just because I was having an opinion on football. When I realised that, I flipped it.
“I realised that I am inspiring so many people and changing people’s perceptions, so I need to be the one to take the hit for it to be easier for the others coming through. And after everything, I’m still standing.
“I was naive going into that world where people were going to critique me. But because I’ve played football since I was eight, football is football to me, whether it’s men playing or women playing.”
During her playing career Alex made 140 appearances for England and represented Great Britain at the Olympics.
The London-born star has been breaking down barriers all her life and is credited for helping make women’s football mainstream.
Alex said: “The success of the women’s World Cup this year makes me smile. People ask me if I wished I could have come into the game now. But I don’t, because what I love is that I’ve been able to be a part of that process of making it what it is.
“I’ve seen it develop and I’m like a proud sister. And now we are finally getting somewhere.
“For me when young kids come up to me, whether it’s young girls or young boys, and they tell me what I’m doing is amazing, that gives me the energy to keep going.”
Alex reckons her ordeal at the hands of trolls will come in handy if the Strictly judges are tough on her.
She said: “It’s going to help me. I’m used to being criticised.”