Former Tottenham and Liverpool footballer Paul Stewart has revealed that he was sexually abused as a youngster by a football coach.
Now 52, Mr Stewart claims that he was abused for a number of years by a man who made threats to kill his family if he told anyone.
Mr Stewart, who was capped for England three times and played for Blackpool, Manchester City and Sunderland, decided to waive his right to anonymity to speak out about the abuse in a bid to help other victims.
He said that he was one of a number of boys who were abused by the coach. The striker-turned-midfielder said he had been left with horrendous “mental scars” which had led him to turn to drugs and alcohol in a bid to cope.
While he didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, he said: “I know now it was a grooming process. The level of abuse got worse and worse.”
His trainer would threaten to attack him physically and sexually if he wasn’t performing well on the pitch, he said. The married father-of-three said that while he was not ready to name his abuser, revelations by two Crewe footballers that they had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Barry Bennell had “brought up a lot of issues” for him.
Eleven people are now said to have contacted police in Cheshire after the men, Andy Woodward and Steve Walters, spoke of the abuse they had suffered at the hands of Bennell, who was jailed for nine years in 1998.
Mr Woodward has said that he believes the sexual abuse revelations in the game of football could be worse than the Jimmy Saville scandal. He said that his abuser was part of a paedophile ring.
Mr Stewart added: “I wanted people to know how difficult it was to come forward. It stirred up a lot of my past which I thought I had buried.”