Former Manchester City forward David White has alleged he was sexually abused by youth coach Barry Bennell. White has become the fourth footballer in the span of seven days – following ex-Crewe Alexandra players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters, and former Liverpool player Paul Stewart – to reveal his harrowing personal tragedy of being the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of his youth coach.
The former England international released a statement saying, “Given recent press stories I wish to confirm that I was sexually abused by my former football coach Barry Bennell in the late 1970s and early 1980s - this abuse took place while I was attached to the Whitehill FC Junior team based in Manchester.”
"For a number of reasons, and for nearly two decades, I kept my ordeal secret from my family and friends,” he told BBC. "While I believe throughout my football career I have come to terms with what had happened, I now realise the effects of Bennell's actions were much more far-reaching than I knew then.”
White, who played for Manchester City, Leeds United and Sheffield United in his career and made 294 league appearances, now hopes to write a book titled ‘Shades of Blue: The Hidden Torment of a Football Star', to let the world know of his horrendous experience.
"Last year I made the decision to gather my thoughts, reflect on my experience, and tell my life story in my own words. I did not set out to write a story about the abuse but knew I would have to include it. In doing so I have come to terms with the fact that Bennell's actions influenced almost every event and relationship in my life. This is just my story and I am now happy to tell it because despite the profound effects of 1979-80 I feel like one of the lucky ones. Circumstances took me away from the abuse before it escalated.”
Barry Bennell, who was the employee of Crewe Alexandra, was convicted of child abuse three times. The Florida police once labelled him as someone with an “insatiable appetite” for teenage boys. He was imprisoned for nine years after he was found guilty of sexual abuse of children in 1998. Bennell was also jailed in 2015 and during the trial, he called himself a 'monster'.
Former Crewe Alexandra players Woodward and Walters have also shockingly revealed they were molested by Bennell and former Liverpool midfielder Paul Stewart has also spoken about being abused by his youth coach for almost four years during his youth career.
White said that he admires the courage shown by the trio: “I salute Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, and Paul Stewart for so bravely revealing their personal tragedies,” he said. “The physical abuse they and others suffered was certainly more extreme and prolonged than my ordeal, and I cannot be sure that I would have their courage.”
This episode has made the PFA aware of the fact they need to tend to youth players more seriously as pointed out by PFA chief Gordon Taylor. “It is a timely warning for everybody in football about our duty of care to these youngsters,” he said. "It is up to all of us now to grasp the nettle and we make sure we learn from this."
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