08022023 Paul Stewart Visit

Bristol Rovers Academy players and staff welcomed former Spurs, Liverpool and England star Paul Stewart on Tuesday as part of a safeguarding training programme.

Stewart, 58, spoke about how his football career was reduced to a career that he did not enjoy after the revelation in 2016 that he was a victim of child sexual abuse when he was playing youth football in Manchester.

The former midfielder delivered a frank, hard-hitting and emotional assessment of his life and career, and the subsequent impact it had on his family, and how he now aims to ensure that no other footballers go through what he had to endure.


Stewart, who played alongside the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Ian Rush and Gareth Southgate during a 600-game career, also answered questions from the Academy players, who gave him a huge round of applause at the conclusion. 

“Nowadays, mental health is a topic that is talked about and is prevalent in society – and rightly so," said Stewart.

“But it was never really mentioned back then, nobody realised. I thought I had blocked everything out from what had happened to me as a kid, but I hadn’t, and it manifested itself in other ways, such as drink, drugs and depression. I want young footballers today to know that they can always talk to someone if they need to, about anything."

The Safeguarding in Sport session was part of the LFE and EFL learning programmes for footballers.

Stewart released his autobiography Damaged in August 2017.

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