Four former British footballers have now taken the brave step of coming forward to speak out about the horrific sexual abuse they were subjected to as children.
The four say they were all abused by their coach Barry Bennell. Andy Woodward and Steve Walters were the first two to reveal they had been abused by 62-year-old Bennell, who has already served three jail terms for child sex offences. Now, fellow players Chris Unsworth and Jason Dunford have waived their right to anonymity in a bid to come to terms with what happened to them.
Mr Unsworth, 44, says he has not told anyone about the abuse until now. However, he says it has blighted his life for years. The former Manchester City youth player said Bennell first abused him when he was nine, adding: “I kept it locked away right in the back of my head, but I am still reliving it. Watching Andy Woodward on TV brought it home.”
He said it started in the car when Bennell touched him on the way to training, and got more serious during sleepovers which took place at the coach’s house. He said he was raped between 50 and 100 times, but no-one ever spoke out about what had happened.
Mr Unsworth moved to Crewe along with Bennell when he was 12 and says at that point he moved onto “fresh blood”. Now a funeral director, Mr Unsworth said he had had enough of football and gave up the game at the age of 16.
Mr Dunford, meanwile, says that Bennell tried to abuse him at a Butlin’s holiday camp. He said: “I told him to get off me. I remember physically hitting him. After that he detached me from the group, saying he’d drop me.”
Two police forces – Cheshire and Northumbria – have confirmed they are investigating allegations of historic abuse.