Former striker Paul Stewart of Tottenham Hotspur and two other ex-players came forward to confess about sexual abuse that they suffered when they were children by youth coaches.
Capped 3 times by the England team, Paul Stewart said that he was subjected to the assault repeatedly by a man who threatened to kill his entire family if he told someone.
The 52-year-old striker who has also represented Liverpool and Manchester City is not the only one. Crewe Alexandra players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters have earlier spoke about the abuse that they suffered.
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“The mental scars actually led me into other problems with drugs and drinks,” Stewart told Wednesday’s Daily Mirror.
“I know now that it was a grooming process. The level of abuse got worse by the day.
“I wanted people to know how difficult it was to come forward. It stirred up a lot of my past. I thought I had buried it.”
Stewart also mentioned that he was not the only one to be abused by the man, who he did not name. He was encouraged to speak after Woodward told The Guardian how he had suffered years of abuse at the hands of a convicted paedophile Barry Bennell. Barry was a former youth coach at Crewe.
Back in 1988, Barry was jailed for 9 years. He pleaded guilty to sexual offences against young boys. He was again imprisoned for 2 years in May 2015. It was in a historic sexual offence case against a boy and has also spent time in the US jail.
The Cheshire Police said that as many as 6 people have come forward to speak to them in the light of Woodward’s interview.
Interview Excerpts taken from The Guardian : Go to Next Page
Woodward told The Guardian: “My life has been ruined until the age of 43, but how many others are there?
“I’m talking about those hundreds of children who Barry Bennell cherry-picked for various football teams and who now, as adults, might still be living with that awful fear.”
Walters Crewe’s youngest debutant, said he had also been abused by Bennell.
“All these years, I’ve had this secret inside me,” he added.
“But I have to let it all out now as it’s the only way. I want closure and I know that this is going to help me move on.”
Based in Northwest England and currently, in England’s fourth tier, Crewe have a well-established reputation for developing young players.
Crewe chairman John Bowler, who was in position at the time of Bennell’s offences, told the BBC the club were “distressed” by the accusations and would review the situation.
He added he was “very sorry for the distress caused” to Woodward and Walters.
Woodward is praised for speaking out by Britain’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
“It is time that the government and sports organisations work together to close gaps in child protection. To make sure that the thousands of sports clubs across the country have some robust safeguarding policies in place,” said an NSPCC spokesman.
England’s Football Association set up a helpline for former players to report abuse.
In a joint statement, the FA, the Premier League and the Football League described Woodward’s story as extremely “heartbreaking” and praised his “immense courage”.