Ex-England player David White reveals sexual abuse by coach

Former Manchester City player set to detail how his ‘life was torn apart’ in new book

David White during his time at Manchester City. Photo: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

David White during his time at Manchester City. Photo: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

 

David White, the one-time England international, is among the former footballers whose “life was torn apart” by sexual abuse and is now willing to speak about his ordeal publicly.

White, best known for his long association with Manchester City, was targeted by a coach he had “hero-worshipped” since the age of 11 and is planning to release a statement on Wednesday evening. As yet, he has not named Barry Bennell but it is known he was coached by him while he was playing for a junior team in Manchester.

White’s story has disturbing similarities to the ordeals suffered by Andy Woodward and Steve Walters, two other former players, who have waived their right to anonymity to tell the Guardian how Bennell preyed on them when they were in Crewe Alexandra’s youth system.

Paul Stewart, the former Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool player, has also come forward to allege he was sexually abused by another coach in the north-west from the ages of 11 to 15. Stewart, who began his career at Blackpool and won three England caps in the early-1990s, told the Daily Mirror it led to him turning to drink and drugs after he had stopped playing.

White, whose career also included spells at Leeds United and Sheffield United, intends to tell his story in a book, entitled Shades of Blue: The Hidden Torment of a Football Star, that will – the publishers say – “detail the impact of that abuse, outlining the shocking events that left a young boy bewildered and traumatised.

Second Captains

“It was a career that would take him to the dizzy heights of playing for his country. Much of David’s youth and senior football career, however, would become blighted by a lack of confidence and consistency. Only David knew the sinister reasons behind this inconsistency. Only David knew who had shot his confidence to pieces. Only David knew that, aged just 11, he had been sexually abused by his football coach.

“David’s parents had given this coach their blessing, believing that his attentions would hugely benefit their son’s football progress. They were, however, utterly unaware that this popular, 20-something, highly regarded coach – who David hero-worshipped – was in fact a prolific and predatory paedophile.”

White, now 49, was a member of City’s “golden generation” that won the FA Youth Cup in 1986 and made his first-team debut at the age of 18, going on to play for them for the next seven years as well as winning an England cap in a 1992 friendly against Spain.

Joanne Lake, whose husband, Paul, played in the same City team, is collaborating with White on the book that, according to the publishers, Michael O’Mara Books, “will also explain why David was unable and unwilling to open up to his family or his club, petrified that the fallout would destroy his father and ruin his fledgling football career. It was not until many years later that David was able to face his demons and begin to rebuild his life.”

Bennell, who coached leading junior teams in Manchester, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire, helped to bring through several first-team players at Maine Road as well as various other international footballers at other clubs.

Now 62, he was sentenced to nine years in prison in 1998 after admitting 23 specimen charges of sexual offences against six boys aged nine to 15, with another 22 offences left on file. He previously served a four-sentence in Florida for offences against a boy on a football tour and was jailed for two years in May 2015 for molesting a 12-year-old in Macclesfield in 1980. He is currently out on licence and believed to be living in Milton Keynes.

Cheshire police announced on Monday that six new people had contacted them on the back of Woodward’s interview when the former Crewe, Bury and Sheffield player revealed he had been sexually abused for several years, from the age of 11, by a man described by the American authorities as having “almost an insatiable appetite” for young boys.

The FA is setting up a hotline for other potential victims and six more people who were previously coached by Bennell contacted Woodward directly on Tuesday after Walters went public to reveal how he had also been targeted by his former coach.

(Guardian service)

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