Former Manchester City winger David White is the fourth English footballer to speak publically about being sexually abused as a child by a youth coach.
Over the past week, ex-Crewe Alexandra players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters told the Guardian of their ordeals with Barry Bennell – a coach who was subsequently convicted as a serial paedophile.
White also claims he was abused by Bennell, while his one-time City team-mate and fellow England international Paul Stewart told the Daily Mirror he was sexually assaulted between the ages of 11 and 15 by an unnamed coach, who told him of Bennell’s crimes in an attempt to legitimise the abuse.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the 49-year-old White said: “In light of 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 Whitehall FC, a 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.
“Throughout my football career I had come to terms with what happened, but I now know that the effects of Bennell’s behaviour were much more profound than I had thought.”
White is set to release a book next year entitled “Shades of Blue: The Hidden Torment of a Football Star” that will detail his ordeal.
“I didn’t set out to write a story about the abuse, but there came a point when I knew I would have to include it,” he said.
“In doing so I began to realise that Bennell’s actions influenced almost every event and relationship in my life.”
White, who came through the ranks at City as an FA Youth Cup-winner and represented his boyhood club between 1986 and 1993 before going on to play for Leeds United and Sheffield United, also paid tribute to the courage shown by Woodward, Walters and Stewart.
“I need to emphasise that I do not feel brave,” he added. “Despite the far-reaching ramifications of 1979-1980, I believe I was one of the luckier ones. Circumstances took me away from the abuse before it escalated to levels that I now know others had to endure.
“I salute Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Paul Stewart for waiving anonymity in order to reveal their personal tragedies. The physical abuse that they and others suffered was certainly more extreme and prolonged than my ordeal and I cannot be sure that I’d have had the courage to come forward.”
Bennell was sentenced to nine years in prison in 1998 after admitting sexual offences against six boys. He was arrested when he was deported back to England following a four-year prison sentence in Florida for raping and indecently assaulting a 13-year-old British boy at a football camp.
Now 62, he was given a third sentence of two years in 2015 for abusing a 12-year-old boy during a coaching course in Macclesfield in 1980.
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