Ex-Chelsea player says racial abuse 'destroyed me as a person'
By Emma Birchley, Sky News Correspondent
Last Updated: 22/03/18 8:05am
A former Chelsea footballer has spoken out about the life-changing racial abuse he claims he suffered as a teenager with the club in the early 1980s.
The player, who wants to remain anonymous, has told Sky News how he was regularly called "shoeshine", and on one occasion remembers being asked: "Have you been out robbing old grannies again with the rest of the darkies on your estate?"
The ex-pro said: "I just thought, how dare you say that to me. My parents bought that with their hard-earned money."
He told no one, not even his wife, what went on from the age of 13 to 18 until three former youth players at the club spoke out in January about similar alleged abuse.
Now solicitors for the man are taking legal action against Chelsea FC, claiming they failed in their duty to protect him from the abuse.
He said: "It's not about money for me. It's about what I went through at the club... the traumatic experience.
"There was a couple of times when I threw up because I felt physically sick about going back into the club and I used to think 'what abuse will I face today? What will today bring?'
"It's destroyed me as a person. It's destroyed my self-confidence."
The man, now in his early 50s, says he used a minor injury as an excuse not to go into the club, resulting in his contract being terminated and with it his dreams of a professional career as a footballer.
Renu Daly, from Hudgell Solicitors, says the time has come for "the true scale" of historical racial abuse of boys in football to be fully investigated.
Ms Daly said: "What I want from the club is acknowledgement that the way this individual was treated, and perhaps other individuals at the time were treated, was in an appalling fashion, which to be honest was as unacceptable back in the 1970s and 1980s as it is now.
"It was not something limited to the terraces. It was happening within their changing rooms."
In response, a Chelsea spokesman said: "We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously.
"We are absolutely determined to do the right thing, to assist the authorities and any investigations, and to fully support those affected which would include counselling for any former player that may need it."
Individuals implicated in similar allegations have previously denied racial abuse.