BOSSES at Southampton Football Club are investigating claims two former Saints schoolboy footballers were groomed and abused by an ex-club employee.
Dean Radford and Jamie Webb waived their right to anonymity to tell BBC South Today about their experiences.
Radford said he was forced to ‘snuggle up’ with a club employee on a couch and added: ‘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.
‘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.’
Radford also alleged he was sexually assaulted when he was asked by the employee to lie down for treatment on a back injury.
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 added: ‘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.’
A statement released on the Premier League side’s website this afternoon confirmed it was assisting police in Hampshire to investigate the claims.
The club statement said: ‘Southampton Football Club would like to confirm that we have contacted Hampshire police following information supplied to us in relation to historical child abuse within football.
‘Hampshire police and Southampton Football Club are committed to working together to investigate any historical allegations that may be brought to light in the Hampshire area.
‘The club has informed Hampshire police that we will offer our full support to any investigation they undertake, for as long as it takes, and with our full focus.
‘The club works closely and tirelessly with the Premier League to promote the safeguarding of children and young people who are under our care or using our facilities, and their well-being is paramount to all staff.’