Paul Stewart: I was abused by coach


It's probably a bit too early to talk about the actual emotions, although I said this a long time ago, it has brought so many memories back.

Cheshire Police said six people had since come forward to say they wish to speak to detectives.

The revelations come after ex-Crewe Alexandra defender Andy Woodward waived his right to anonymity to tell the Guardian that Barry Bennell - a youth coach and subsequently convicted serial paedophile - abused him while underage during his time the club.

Paul Stewart, now 52, who settled in the resort after a stellar career playing for Liverpool and Tottenham, says he suffered abuse hundreds of times, from the age of 11 to 15 - and that the coach, who can not be named for legal reasons, threatened to kill him and his family if he ever spoke about it.

"It brought a lot of issues up for me, and wanted people to know how hard it was to come forward".

"We are now in the process of making contact with the six people, and at this stage no one else is under investigation".

'Cheshire Constabulary takes all reports of sexual offences extremely seriously and has specialist trained officers to provide advice and support.

Stewart said: "The mental scars led me into other problems with drink and drugs".

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He was imprisoned for two years in May 2015 for a historic sexual offence against a boy and has also spent time in jail in the United States. "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", Stewart told the Daily Mirror. "I think I was 12 or 13, he was trying to infer it was normal".

Crewe chairman John Bowler said he was "infuriated and very disappointed" with Bennell's previous crimes and that the club was "distressed".

"When things come out of the blue like this, you first want to make inquiries and reflect from within".

Stewart also revealed that he knew of other team-mates who were abused at the hands of his tormentor, including one older player who admitted the fact to him when the pair met again as adults. "The level of abuse got worse and worse".

There are fears, however, that this scandal goes far beyond Crewe, a small club with a proud tradition of developing football talent.

Speaking to The Guardian, he said: "We've seen with the Jimmy Savile case how people have had the courage, yet I'd say within the football world it's even harder to speak out".

His professional football career began as a midfielder at Crewe Alexandria in 1989 aged just 16 years and 119 days old - which still stands as the club's record for the youngest player.

He said he has lived in torment ever since, coming close to suicide on several occasions and suffering panic attacks so bad that he had to give up his beloved sport aged just 29.

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