Shattered dreams revealed as Bennell found guilty

Eleven victims and several other witnesses gave evidence at Barry Bennell’s trial, which heard about the long-term systematic abuse he meted out.

Here, in their own words, they describe what it was like to be a victim of one of football’s most prolific child sex abusers.

Victim 1

:: Abused “tens of times, if not 100” after meeting Bennell when he was scouting for Manchester City

“He would make you feel like you stood out, like you were different, like you were special.

“Every boy just dreamed of being a footballer, so everybody wanted to please him.”

Victim 2

:: Abused regularly, if not whenever Bennell took him to training at Manchester City

“He would move his hands around your body on the outside of your clothes, tickle you, and you would have to do the same to him.”

“I just thought it was normal, this is what you have to do.

“The first time; I will never forget it. I was just crying, the pain. It felt like it went on for hours but it was probably two or three minutes.”

Victim 3

:: Scouted by Bennell after playing football for a school team and abused repeatedly at the coach’s home and on trips to Butlins and Spain

Describing how he felt on one occasion at his home when he saw Bennell tell another boy to go upstairs, where he abused him, he said: “The lowest of them all. The lowest I’ve ever felt in my life.

“I was a biggish, strongish 14-year-old lad and I felt like I had been raped. I felt the worst I’d ever felt.”

Victim 4

:: Scouted by Bennell while playing for school team and abused at Bennell’s home, in his car and in North Wales

“At Maine Road [Manchester City’s home stadium at the time] he (Bennell) was God, from like the security officer at the players’ entrance…

“We idolised him, he was a God, to me anyway.

“This man was teaching me things to do with football that I had never seen before, he was brilliant at football, he was a good coach.”

Gary Speed

Image: The trial heard Gary Speed was one of four people coached by Bennell who later took their own life

Victim 5

:: A victim who, in 1998, Bennell admitted abusing

“Four people from teams I have played with, with Bennell, have taken their own lives.

“Whether they have taken their lives due to Barry solely I don’t know but all I know is how it’s had an impact on me and how it could impact on other people.”

Victim 6

:: Played for Crewe Alexandra as a youth and went with him to the Bobby Charlton Soccer School, where Bennell was a coach

“You’re like a frightened rabbit; you know it’s not right but you don’t know how to stop.”

He said he had “bolted out of bed” during one incident.

“Alarmingly I went and got back into bed with him.”

Victim 7

:: Allegedly stayed at Bennell’s house after an arrangement was made with Crewe Alexandra

“He had this power over you and he had this nasty streak.

“He could turn on you just like that. He would say ‘I’ll ruin your football career’.”

“You feel like you’re paralysed. All I’m trying to think about is my football. I can’t say anything because of my football.”

A general view of Liverpool Crown Court

Image: Bennell was on trial at Liverpool Crown Court

Victim 8

:: Abused by Bennell at Crewe Alexandra

The victim told the court the second time he was abused by Bennell was on a trip to Butlins.

He said: “He just said that I did OK and ‘just pretend it’s your girlfriend’.”

Victim 9

:: Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder since reporting his abuse

Fellow youth footballers “have said they witnessed him touching me on the sofa when I was asleep.

“That is a bit hard to take, that’s led to (thinking) ‘how many more times did it happen? What else happened?'”

“I feel guilty because I never said anything.”

Victim 10

:: Estimated he was abused on about 100 occasions and Bennell forced him to perform oral sex and raped him on seven to 10 occasions

Speaking about the final time he was abused by Bennell, he said he told him “I don’t want to do it anymore.

“He said ‘You must enjoy it’ and gave me a smirk.

“I said ‘No, I don’t enjoy it’ and just turned my back. Within two or three minutes he climbed into my bed and abused me anyway.”

Victim 11

:: Abused over a number of years after he began playing youth football for Crewe Alexandra, including on trips to Gran Canaria and the US

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“The next morning his words to me were ‘You seem chirpy today’ and I said to him ‘How do you want me to act?’

“I was a 13-year-old boy. How do you want me to act? His words were ‘You must have enjoyed it’.”

“I wanted to be a footballer. I wanted to impress my parents, I wanted to impress my dad most of all, so by telling them that, I know it would have devastated them, which it now has.”