Football sex abuse: Le Tissier 'given naked massage' by former coach

Ex-England star describes 'very, very wrong' experiences while a young player at Southampton

Le Tissier
(Image credit: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Matt le Tissier has become the highest-profile footballer to make allegations of wrongdoing against a former coach, although he does not consider himself the victim of abuse.

The former England star spoke out yesterday about his experiences at the hands of then Southampton youth coach Bob Higgins, who is already at the centre of other child abuse allegations.

Le Tissier, who joined the Saints in 1985, aged 16, told BBC South Higgins had given him and other boys naked massages.

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He said: "Everyone was kind of naked and getting thrown on this bed [for]... a very quick massage - it was uncomfortable… It's very, very wrong... but as a young boy you thought, 'Is this normal?'

"It's pretty disgusting. What went on is not normal behaviour. When you hear the stories of naked soapy massages, hairy bum competitions... you look back at it now and think, 'Hang on, what was going on?'."

He also praised the bravery of those who had come forward after former Crewe Alexandra youth team player Andy Woodward waived his right to anonymity last month to speak about his ordeal.

The widespread allegations of abuse had "not come as a big surprise", he added.

Le Tissier later sent a series of tweets saying he did not consider himself a victim of abuse and urging support for those who are.

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Higgins "has yet to comment on the allegations against him but was acquitted of sexual abuse charges in 1992 and denied any wrongdoing when similar claims against him were made in a Dispatches documentary five years later", reports the Daily Telegraph.

It adds that "he was still working in the game as recently as last month, something which prompted criticism yesterday from veteran manager Harry Redknapp, who said rumours about Higgins had been 'rife' for years".

Hampshire police are investigating claims from several former youth players, says The Times, which adds the scandal is continuing to spread.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland has become the latest force to confirm it has launched investigations. The most recent figures show 55 different clubs and 350 potential victims could be involved," says the paper.

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