Matthew Monaghan 'quit football after abuse by coach'

Matthew Monaghan

A Welshman has told how he walked away from a promising career in football because of abuse he suffered at the hands of a coach as a child.

Matthew Monaghan, from Pwllhelli, Gwynedd, played for Manchester United's and Wales' youth teams after the abuse at another club.

But Mr Monaghan said panic attacks forced him to give it all up.

It comes after several former players made allegations of historical child sexual abuse against football coaches.

Mr Monaghan, who now lives in Warrington, said he would have panic attacks, which were "without a doubt" down to the abuse, during training and matches.

"It's a weird feeling. It's as if you've lost four or five seconds of what's just happened and you don't know where you are, and I just had to get off the pitch," he told the BBC's Radio Cymru.

"I always used to say I was injured. That was my excuse, because you can't just run off a football pitch.

"I just thought I was cracking up, basically, losing the plot. I was drinking, late for training. I was always in trouble."

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Mr Monaghan said he believed now that if he had told the club what had happened, "they would have got me counselling and the help that I needed".

Drinking, he said, was "the only way I could cope" at the time.

He said he was playing a match for Wales Youth when he realised he could not continue that way.

"I had a panic attack in the middle of the game and I thought 'I can't do this any more,' he said.

"Then I went back to united a couple of days later, had a bit of an argument with the coach, and I went in the office the next day and quit.

"I thought if I left football it would make me better."

He said he then booked into a hotel and spent all of his money - about £6,000 - in three weeks.

He said he did not tell the club about the abuse at the time because "it's not the sort of thing you talk about is it? Especially in football".

Mr Monaghan said he was 23 when he first told his mother what had happened, but only now felt able to speak about it publicly.

He said he had no doubt he could have made it as a professional footballer had he not been abused.

Mr Monaghan added: "I'm not being big-headed, I've played with some of the best players in the world and I've held my own against them."

He said he thinks about what could have been "every Friday when I pay the bills", but now just wants to move on.

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