UK Footballer: I was trafficked for sex and men tried to rape me

Al Bangura, a former Premier League footballer has revealed he was sexually abused by men on his way to the UK, as he followed his dream of becoming a football player.

Bangura, who previously played for Watford, is working to raise awareness about the risks facing young African players, desperate to travel to Europe.

The Sierra Leone-born player recounted how he left home as a teenager to travel to Guinea. In Guinea, he met a French man who claimed he would help him play football professionally in Europe.

Speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire show, Bangura explained: “I didn’t know he had another different intention – to get me into the sex trade.”

After travelling to the UK with the man, Bangura found himself being sexually assaulted by men.

He said: “The guy left me… all of a sudden I saw two or three guys come around me, trying to rape me and make me do stuff.

“Because I was young and I was small… I was just screaming. They probably thought I knew what I was there for – obviously I know what I came over here for, not knowing he’s here to play football.

“I was just crying and proper screaming and I tried to make my way out – I was cold, I was scared, I was crying, I didn’t know where to start.

“I made my way outside…. I was thinking this is the end of my life. All I wanted to do was play football.”

Bangura eventually got out, and was given a two-year right to stay by the Home Office as he is 16.

He said: “It was so emotional, because after a few months I’d kind of forgotten about what what I’d been through, it was sad for me but I ended up coming to a good thing.

“I started meeting people, started playing football… and I got the opportunity to join Watford when I was 16, and things just started building up for me.

The player has called for FIFA to adopt “a blanket ban on the signing of minors” to football clubs, to address the thousands of teens who leave Africa chasing their dream – often finding themselves exploited.

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