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Ex-England player White latest to claim coach sex abuse

David White

David White has written a book about his ordeal

Former Manchester City and England player David White has become the fourth footballer to speak publicly about being sexually abused as a child by a coach.

White follows ex-Crewe players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters, and former Tottenham forward Paul Stewart.

The 49-year-old claims former Crewe coach Barry Bennell, a convicted paedophile, abused him.

Cheshire Police said 11 people had come forward since Woodward went public.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) expects that number to rise.

The four players to speak publicly have each waived their right to anonymity as sex abuse victims.

White said: “For a number of reasons, and for nearly two decades, I kept my ordeal secret from my family and friends.

“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 is not one of the 11 people to come forward to Cheshire Police, said “circumstances took me away from the abuse before it escalated”.

“I salute Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart for so bravely revealing their personal tragedies,” he added.

“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.”

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Andy Woodward speaks about being sexually abused by his coach

Woodward, 43 and Walters, 44, have spoken about being abused by Bennell, who was jailed for nine years in 1998 for sexual offences against children.

Bennell, who worked as a football scout and coach at Crewe Alexandra in the 1980s and 90s, admitted 23 specimen charges of sexual offences against six boys, aged nine to 15.

Stewart, 52, a former England international who started his career at Blackpool and also played for Manchester City and Liverpool, told the Mirror an unnamed coach abused him daily for four years up to the age of 15.

White, who is releasing a book about his abuse, said he was targeted at the age of 11 by a coach he “hero-worshipped”.

After making more than 340 appearances for Manchester City, he went on to play for Leeds United and Sheffield United, and won a single cap for England.

He said he does not feel “brave” but “like one of the lucky ones” despite the “profound effects of 1979-80”.

White added: “I have come to terms with the fact Bennell’s actions influenced almost every event and relationship in my life.

“The process of writing the book became sometimes painful, always cathartic and incredibly liberating.”

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Former football scout and coach Barry Bennell was jailed for nine years in 1998

PFA chief Gordon Taylor said: “Because of Andy Woodward’s bravery, many other ex-players and apprentices are now contacting us – it is double figures now – and that is a timely warning for everybody in football about our duty of care to these youngsters.

“It is up to all of us now to grasp the nettle and we make sure we learn from this.”

Det Insp Sarah Hall, from Cheshire Police’s public protection unit, said: “We have now been made aware of a number of people who have come forward wishing to speak to the police.

“At this stage we are in the process of making contact with them, and to date no arrests have been made and no-one else is under investigation.”

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Crewe chairman John Bowler has told BBC sports editor Dan Roan he was “infuriated and very disappointed” about Bennell’s crimes.

Bowler, who was chairman at the time of Bennell’s offences, was asked whether more could have been done. He replied: “When we’ve done our inquiries and looked at the detail of the various accusations, then I’ll be in a position to answer that kind of question.”

Woodward told BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday he believed his experience was “the tip of the iceberg”.

A spokesman for the NSPCC praised the former Sheffield United and Bury defender for coming forward, adding there was “more to be done in the world of sport” to keep children safe.

Sue Ravenlaw, head of equality and safeguarding at the Football Association, has also praised Woodward for his “immense courage” in going public.

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Stewart (left), Walters (middle) and Woodward (right) have gone public with their ordeals

What have the former footballers said?

Paul Stewart: “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.

“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 was always under threat, if I was not playing well, he would threaten me with violence as well as sexual abuse. He was a monster.”

Steve Walters: “I just had to pretend it never happened and block it out. I knew it could never come out and I was absolutely petrified because I thought that if it did ever come out that would be it for my career – finished.

“All these years, I’ve had this secret inside me. It’s been unbearable but, just from reading the article from Andy, it already feels like a massive burden off my shoulders.

“I have to do this, and I just hope it will help bring more people forward, too.”

Andy Woodward said: “It was that control, that all I wanted to do was be a footballer.

“With regards to the sport – there was nothing, it was brushed under the carpet. It’s in the mentality of football that nothing comes out.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38084213