Former Blackpool footballer Paul Stewart says he was sexually abused as a young player
A former Blackpool FC star who went on to play for England has become the latest footballer to speak out about how he was sexually abused by a former coach,
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 cannot be named for legal reasons, threatened to kill him and his family if he ever spoke about it.
It was only at the age of 15, when he signed for Blackpool – a club he went on to play for more than 200 times – that he managed to escape his ordeal.
Paul alleges his own abuse started after a youth coach befriended his parents and promised to “help make him a star”.
He told the Daily Mirror: “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.”
Stewart, now a successful businessman says he fears there was a north west paedophile ring operating and there could be more victims yet to come forward.
Six other people have contacted police with claims they were abused as young footballers.
Former Crewe Alexandra star Steve Walters, 44, and Andy Woodward have come forward to they were victims of sexual assault at the Cheshire club.
Stewart, a married dad of three, added: “I have not done this lightly, I have spoken to my wife, kids and parents.
“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.
“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.”