Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Footballer Who Lifted Lid on Sex Abuse Scandal Turns Life Around

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Footballer Who Lifted Lid on Sex Abuse Scandal Turns Life Around

Article excerpt

FORMER Manchester City footballer Paul Stewart has told how lifting the lid on his 41-year secret sex abuse nightmare helped him dramatically turn his life around.

The ex-England star bravely revealed for the first time in our sister paper, the Mirror, last year how he had been targeted aged 11 by paedophile youth coach Frank Roper. His interview triggered one of the biggest scandals to hit the national game.

Manchester-born Paul, 52, has now written a book, Damaged, about his horrific experiences, which is being serialised in the paper.

In it he tells of his spiral into drug addiction and his visits to the scenes of abuse at desolate playing fields, car parks and training pitches where Roper, a coach with Manchester junior side Nova, took him to be alone. And he reveals he still has nightmares about the pervert. Roper died 12 years ago in Stockport.

He also talks of the devastating effect his drug use had on wife, Bev, and their children, Adam, 30, Chloe, 28, and Jade, 21.

Paul - who has just launched the charity SAVE with other former stars to help victims of abuse - said: "In many ways, the interview with the Mirror was a turning point in my life.

"I wish now I had come forward much earlier. That first interview has helped me. It feels like a weight has been lifted, a burden deep in my soul. Victims will know immediately what I mean - you carry it, hidden away."

But Paul told how he regrets not speaking out about his almost daily abuse, that went on for four years, a move he feels could have prevented pervert Roper going on to attack others.

That first helped me. weight had Paul He adds: "People use the words 'brave',' 'courageous' about my decision to disclose my past. I can't help thinking that had I been courageous when I was a young footballer and told my coach or manager, then I might have stopped Roper abusing countless others. I will live with that for the rest of my life."

A stream of former players targeted by paedophile coaches contacted former Spurs and Liverpool player Paul after his Mirror interview. …

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