The former Liverpool and England player, Paul Stewart has revealed that he was sexually assaulted by a youth coach for 4 years continuously. This horrifying revelation comes right after former Crewe Alexandra player Andy Woodward came out and revealed the sexual abuse he suffered under the youth coach Barry Bennell.
Speaking to The Mirror, Paul says that his assaulter got away with it because he threatened to kill his parents and relatives if he ever told anyone.
“One day, travelling in the car, he started to touch me. It frightened me to death, I did not know what to do, I tried to tell my parents not to let him in but I was only 11. From then, it progressed to sexually abusing me, he said he would kill my mother, my father, my two brothers if I breathed a word about it.
“And at 11 years old, you believe that. He would say: ‘Does anyone want to drive the car?’ I sat with a leg on one side by the steering wheel. That is when he first touched me.”
He added: “The mental scars led me into other problems with drink and drugs. I know now it was a grooming process. The level of abuse got worse and worse. I still went out and played. After a while that became an escape from him, a total relief for 90 minutes. My family, career, success was a way of forgetting.”
Stewart finally decided to go public with his ordeal in hopes that more victims will come forward with their heart-wrenching stories and that justice will eventually prevail. Currently, a businessman based in Blackpool, he believes that there may be hundreds of other victims all over England and that a paedophile ring was growing and operating in North West football at the time.
“You would not believe how many times I contemplated suicide, even when things were going well,” he said. “I was playing for Spurs and England, at the peak of my success. But there was that constant feeling. It was so dark and I just wanted to step out of it. Drinking was a release.
“Over the years I have thought: ‘Why did I not tell anybody?’ But it is because of the stigma that was attached to it. A child could be ostracised and it is hard for family to believe it. Sometimes they would believe the adult. I am sure there are players … who have struggled through life.
“I want them to feel they are not alone and not to be ashamed of it, and hopefully something can be done if these people are still alive.”
Paul finally signed for Blackpool at the age of 15, and moved away from his alleged abuser. He went on to make his full professional debut at the age of 17. The player then went on to win an FA Cup with Tottenham and play alongside the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker.
“It has been very difficult. I have not got much sleep, even less than usual. But I knew this is the right thing to do. It will be hard for those closest to me. People may point fingers, it is part of being a public figure. But I owe them. My girls and my son have seen the issues I have had and brought to the house.
“Now perhaps they will understand why I have not been able to say the things a parent can say to his children.”
A helpline was set up for soccer abuse victims, as six other people have ended up contacting law enforcement officials with claims of being abused as young footballers.