Wales

Cardiff boss Warnock thanked for support by Bennell abuse victim

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Media captionAndy Woodward says Barry Bennell ruined his life

A man who was abused by convicted football coach Barry Bennell has spoken of his gratitude to Neil Warnock, who supported him when he went public.

In November 2016 Andy Woodward waived his anonymity in an interview with the BBC which led to more abuse victims coming forward.

He has written a book, The Position of Trust, detailing the abuse, much of which took place in north Wales.

Mr Woodward said the Cardiff City boss was "so supportive".

The 45-year-old said he spoke to Warnock, who managed him at both Bury and Sheffield United, the night before he spoke out.

"I think he gave me that push, that's a defining moment, to be the first person to publicly speak out.

"Neil was a real help for me back in the day when I was struggling with panic attacks."

In February last year Bennell was jailed for 31 years at Liverpool Crown Court for 50 counts of child sexual abuse.

An appeal to reduce his sentence was refused by the Court of Appeal a few months later.

"The most important thing is that that man is behind bars for the rest of his life," Mr Woodward told BBC Wales.

"I was so pleased the other victims had come forward and to get justice as well. It was closure for me, full closure."

Image caption Barry Bennell was jailed for 31 years in 2018 for 50 counts of child sexual abuse

Bennell scouted Mr Woodward, then aged 11, while he was playing for Stockport Boys. He was then abused while at Crewe Alexandra from the age of 11 to 15.

"I remember over a few years being at Pwllheli Butlins and he used to take me there on several occasions on my own and with the team, and over to Anglesey.

"I love Wales, I love going to those places, I have a caravan there, but when I drive past those places, it still sends that trauma to the front of my brain.

"That's why he was called the pied piper, he had that power and that's why the book is called The Position of Trust, he had that position of trust not only with the boys but with the parents," Mr Woodward said.

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