Newcastle defender Steven Taylor has called for greater respect for referees after revealing Mark Halsey was a regular target of death threats.
In a conversation with Halsey before last weekend's match against West Brom, Taylor said the Premier League match official had told him he had received threats to "put a bullet in the heads" of him and his family.
The Newcastle defender admitted his shock at the revelation, insisting the taunts he had faced in the previous weekend's Tyne-Wear derby paled in comparison.
"He asked me how I felt about the Sunderland game and I said there had been no problems at all, that it was just a bit of banter," Taylor told The Times.
"I didn't realise that he gets death threats and all that. He has had death threats to him and his family - people talking about his family, his kids, about putting a bullet in their heads.
"I didn't know that kind of thing happened. That was a bit of a shock to me, a real eye-opener."
Halsey, who recovered from throat cancer to return to refereeing in 2010, was at the centre of Twitter abuse last year after he officiated a stormy match between Liverpool and Manchester United.
The 51-year-old was left to complain to police after a user of the social networking site wrote: "I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies".
Taylor added: "I asked him how he dealt with (the abuse) and he said 'You've just got to get on with it and not let it get to you'.
"But I don't know how you can shrug off something like that. That must be incredibly hard.
"I think referees deserve more credit."