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Former Professional Footballer BACK TO SPEAKERS PAGE


Andy Woodward is a former professional footballer who played for six different clubs during an eleven year career including Crewe Alexandra, Bury and Sheffield United.  He signed his first professional contract with Crewe in July 1992 and made his first start a year later.  However his career was cut short because of the mental scars left by the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of Barry Bennell, whilst a trainee with Crewe in the 1980s.  He had been talent-spotted by coach and scout Bennell at the age of just eleven and like many football-mad youngsters dreamed of one day turning professional.  He stayed at Bennell’s house during holidays where the abuse began and his ordeal was made worse when Bennell later married Andy’s sister.  Following panic attacks which began in 1999 Woodward was eventually forced to retire from football.  In 2016 he finally spoke out about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Bennell, who had already served one jail term after being convicted of 23 offences, although he was initially charged with 45.  Andy has suffered with mental health issues, including contemplating suicide.  He helped to launch the Offside Trust, an organisation set up to support player victims of abuse and their families.  He believes many players suffered abuse as youngsters, but the macho culture in football at the time prevented any from speaking out.  He continues to campaigns for improved safeguarding and victim support in sport to ensure that no children in sport go through what he suffered.


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