For 12-time champion jockey Ruby Walsh, being a professional sports person was never a popularity contest.

He looked it as being a results based contest and never got too caught up in what people thought of him. That attitude served him well during his career, which spanned 24 years and yielded over 2500 winners.

"People's opinion of me didn't overly bother me or worry me. Everyone wants to be popular, but I soon realised that the real popular guys in the weigh-room are the ones that aren't riding the winners," said Ruby Walsh speaking on We Become Heroes, an RTÉ Sport podcast.

"So I knew from a young age that if you are going to be successful you are not always going to be popular and people are going to just love to want to take you down a peg or two.

"But I guess with criticism, I was always of the opinion, keep throwing it, because somewhere along the way, I will prove you wrong no matter what I have do, I will prove you wrong."

In the latter stages of Walsh’s career social media exploded and with it came intense scrutiny and criticism.

High profile incidents, like falling on Annie Power, were met with an avalanche of social media abuse.

In fact, trolling sports people has become a major issue for many athletes, including Walsh, but he deals with it by avoiding the platforms as much as possible.

"I was never one for retaliation but I always got even," explained Walsh.

"I just always looked ahead, the past, can never be changed. We can only affect the future and that's the way I looked at it. To me horses fell, horses got beat, you looked at it, you analysed it, you saw what was wrong, done.

"It can’t be 'what if', or 'if only I'…not if anything, you couldn’t do anything about it, it was done. You can only be what you can affect going in the other direction, in the future. And that's just the way I looked at it.

"I guess I was lucky that I was sort of ahead of social media just before it. I know it came in in the latter end of my career but I didn't really ever buy into.

"Social media has become such a global phenomenon. And there's no doubt that it's here to stay and it's whatever it is, but I think people will eventually see that there are certain platforms of social media, that it might be better off without."

Walsh announced his retirement immediately after riding joint favourite Kemboy to victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup in 2019.

He bowed out as one of the finest National Hunt jockeys in history. His total of 59 Cheltenham Festival successes is more than any other rider and he won the Grand National twice.

He’s now regular on radio and television including RTÉ 2FM’S Game On and although he misses the wins in racing he doesn’t miss the pressure.

"I’d had enough of pressure, enough of the anticipation, enough of the worry, that’s the feeling that comes with pressure it's the anticipation, it's not the actual riding of the horse.

"I never felt the pressure of physically riding a horse, it was the pressure in the build-up in the weeks before ,the decisions, planning that out in your head, I had just done that for long enough.

"I was standing in Cheltenham recently, looking at Rachael Blackmore and Paul Townend and thinking, I'm glad I don't have that feeling they have in their stomachs right now.

"You’ll always miss winning, of course you will but that’s only 2% of the job. So yeah, I miss crossing the line in front and turning to the crowd at somewhere like Cheltenham or the Dublin Racing Festival or the English Grand National even Punchestown, Galway, those big meetings.

"Of course yeah and being clapped back into the parade ring but that's about 2% of being a jockey, or being any sports person, crossing the line or winning a match.

"It's all the effort that goes with it, and I had had my life time of that commitment so I was looking forward to something else, and I'm enjoying what I'm doing."

We need your consent to load this SoundCloud contentWe use SoundCloud to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

We Become Heroes is a podcast hosted by RTÉ Sport journalist Marie Crowe, featuring some of Ireland's biggest sports stars.

You can watch the interview with Ruby Walsh above or listen on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.