Trial: Accused soccer coach held power over aspiring players

A former youth footballer told a British court that coach Barry Bennell began abusing him

One complainant, who said that he was abused "tens of tens" of times, said that they first met when Bennell came to a football training session as a scout for Manchester City.

"He would make you feel like you stood out, like you were different, like you were special", said the complainant, who has the right to anonymity in the British justice system. "Every boy just dreamt of being a footballer, so everybody wanted to please him".

He said Mr Bennell raped him "about half a dozen times" during that time.

The complainant described the coach playing music including Billy Joel and "Abracadabra" by the Steve Miller Band as he was abused.

He said: "That tune just sends chills down my spine".

The complainant said Bennell had a set of bunk beds next to his own bed in the room above the video shop he ran, adding that "he always put music on in the bedroom". "I want to make it, I want to be a footballer, I want to play for City".

Bennell also claimed he had been abusing another boy at the time he knew Unsworth.

The jury, made up of seven women and five men, was told that Bennell was appearing in court via video-link because he needs to be fed through a tube as a result of illness.

The alleged victim described being abused on a football tour at Butlin's in Pwllheli when he woke up to find Bennell behind him.

He said: "I had a victim; I didn't need two or three or four".

"The first time I will never forget it, " he said. "One, they wouldn't believe you and, two, I'm going to jeopardise where I want to get to in professional football".

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Following a break for lunch the alleged victim was cross-examined while sitting behind a screen, with talkRADIO reporter Alex Dibble saying there was some "definite tension" between him and the defence.

He said: "We didn't want to spoil our chances".

After a short recess the jury was shown a television interview in which former footballer Andy Woodward broke his silence about being abused.

Defending Mr Bennell, Eleanor Laws QC, questioned whether Mr Unsworth had discussed seeking financial compensation with a solicitor or other alleged victims.

Bennell denied abusing Unsworth but admitted that he had stayed at his house and slept in his bed.

He said the abuse went on until Bennell suddenly lost interest in him.

The complainant told the court he was not aware of the possibility of a joint action court case against Crewe Alexandra or any other organisations.

The court was read a transcript of a police interview with Bennell conducted in February 2017.

His home, where he would invite boys to stay over, was described by one complainant as a "paradise" for young boys with a pool table, fruit machine, big TVs and unusual pets, which the court heard included a wild cat and a monkey.

They heard that, if he gave evidence during the trial, he would be present in court.

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