Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ex-Southampton footballers describe abuse at club

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Media captionFormer Southampton player talks about his abuse

Former footballers have alleged they were subjected to years of grooming and sexual abuse from a former employee of Southampton FC.

Dean Radford and Jamie Webb have spoken about incidents they said happened when they were in their teens.

A number of other players have also come forward saying they were abused at the club.

Southampton FC said it would co-operate fully with any police investigation.

As a member of the schoolboy development teams, Mr Radford said he would stay over in Southampton during weekends away from his native Bristol.

Along with another young player, he said he was made to "snuggle up" with a club employee on a couch.

He said: "It was very odd for me because this was the first experience I'd had of that sort of closeness and whatever else you want to call it.

Image caption Dean Radford went on to play for Southampton's first team

"The reasons he gave were that we needed to trust him, he needed to be like a second father to us - if we trusted him, and it worked both ways, then the chances were there that we could become a professional footballer."

Mr Radford also described a sexual assault which he said took place after he had developed a back injury and was asked to lie down for treatment.

Jamie Webb, who joined the club when he was 13, described how boys were "groomed" by the club employee who asked them to write him "love" letters.

Image copyright Jamie Webb
Image caption Jamie Webb joined Southampton aged 13

Recalling a "definite attempt to abuse me", Mr Webb said: "I recall clearly he tried to move down and put his hand in between my shorts and my tracksuit that I was wearing and I just blocked him."

He said the experiences "tarnished" his memories of his time at the club and Mr Radford said he held the club "partly responsible" for the abuse.

Mr Radford said: "They must have known, they must have heard these rumours going around because everybody else had."

The two men waived their anonymity to speak to the BBC.

Image caption Jamie Webb said his time with the club had been 'tarnished'

BBC South has also spoken to other former Southampton players who have come forward with allegations of abuse.

Mr Radford said he had the "utmost respect" for other ex-footballers who have spoken out about being abused.

He said: "You don't live every day of your life crying your eyes out and walking around with your head down, you get on with life as normal, but you still have it there, it's buried there deep, and it comes up, and it will keep coming up for the rest of my life."

Mr Radford said if his parents had known at the time they would have stopped the abuse.

Hampshire Constabulary is one of 15 police forces investigating allegations of abuse in football.

It comes as the NSPCC said its hotline - set up to offer support to victims of child sex abuse within football - had received 860 calls in its first week.

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