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Ex-Northern Ireland manager Lawrie McMenemy 'shocked' at football abuse claims

Ex-Northern Ireland manager Lawrie McMenemy has said he was “shocked and disgusted” after hearing claims of sexual abuse by a former employee of Southampton.

The now retired coach, who managed the Northern Ireland side for two years from 1998, was speaking after former Southampton players spoke out about incidents which they say happened when they were in schoolboy teams.

He said if he had known of any abuse, he would have acted

"Certainly if I'd known that was happening in my time, and I don't think it did happen in my time — I would have got it killed straightaway," he told the BBC.

"If I thought for one minute that sort of thing was happening, I'd have acted...certainly I'd have gone straight to the police."

"I'm so sad and disappointed — we all feel for the players...I don't think this sort of thing could happen now.”

Meanwhile, Former England captain Alan Shearer has urged footballers to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse.

Shearer (46) said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by recent revelations and appealed for victims to contact the NSPCC's football helpline, which has received 860 calls in a week.

The former Newcastle United striker said anyone who has suffered abuse in the sport, or is still suffering, should come forward.

He said: "I've been shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the abuse that colleagues, and in some cases former team mates, suffered.

"All clubs now have dedicated people tasked with keeping kids safe but there's always more to be done.

"Every club — from the grassroots up — must continue to look at what they're doing to prevent abuse happening to any kids today and in the future."

Current captain Wayne Rooney (31) has joined with figures, including women's captain Steph Houghton, in a video on "safeguarding" published for the FA and NSPCC.

West Midlands Police also said it was "investigating four historical allegations of child sexual abuse in football" and Kent Police said it had received reports of abuse within the county's football community.

Former Chelsea star Alan Hudson, 65, said it was "common knowledge" that ex-coach Eddie Heath "was a danger to us youngsters".

Hudson, a midfielder for the club between 1968 and 1974, spoke out on Facebook after it was claimed Chelsea paid off former striker Gary Johnson who alleged he was abused by Heath.

Johnson (57) said he was paid £50,000 not to go public with allegations that he was sexually abused by its former chief scout.

Chelsea said on Tuesday that it had appointed an external law firm to carry out a formal investigation into a former employee, with the club refusing to comment on any of the details.

Mr Heath, who was the club's chief scout from 1968 to 1979, died before the allegations were made.

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