Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland footballer Mark Williams makes abuse claims against Barry Bennell

Former Northern Ireland footballer Mark Williams has released a statement claiming he was abused by former football coach Barry Bennell.

The footballer said he "cannot just sit back and watch my former team-mates suffer alone".

Mr Williams said: "I have been watching events unfold during the last week and feel I cannot just sit back and watch my former teammates suffer alone. I need to stand by their side.

"Their courage and bravery has inspired me to speak out about my own abuse at the hands of my former coach Barry Bennell. He abused me on two occasions – once at Pegasus, the Manchester City nursery team, when I was 11 years old, and then three years later when I had moved to Crewe where he was my coach as a schoolboy."

"I was touched inappropriately in the genital area on both occasions and luckily for me it didn’t go any further than that. My life has been affected irreversibly both personally and professionally and it has been soul destroying to carry this burden for 30 years.”

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"Barry Bennell’s systemic abuse has affected a whole generation of young footballers. We need to make sure there are stringent measures in place to protect our children. No child should ever have to suffer as we and many others have. If there is anyone out there that has been or is being abused please speak out or seek help from organisations like the NSPCC, don’t suffer alone.

"I am incredibly thankful for all the support of my family and the bravery and courage of my fellow players who together have helped me find the courage to speak out.

"Without them I would never have felt brave enough to re-open the box buried in the back of my mind holding my own pain and torture. I would have taken this to my grave. By speaking out I hope that we can make a lasting difference for future generations of children."

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