London (AFP) – An abuse victim on Wednesday accused late England football manager Graham Taylor of telling him to sweep his warnings about a paedophile coach “under the carpet”.
Tony Brien said he was abused as a child by Ted Langford, a football scout who was jailed in 2007 for sexually abusing four young players in the 1970s and 1980s.
Speaking to the BBC about his experience, Brien said in 1987 he tried to warn Taylor, then Aston Villa manager, and his deputy Dave Richardson about using Langford as a scout.
“(Taylor) just said to me, ‘Look, you’re a young lad starting out in the game.’ He said, ‘I know you’ve just made your debut’.
“He said, ‘Could you really be dealing with all the obscenities from the terraces? So I just suggest you sweep it underneath the carpet’,” Brien said, recalling a telephone conversation when he was 18.
Taylor, who died in January aged 72, went on to manage England and also oversaw Watford’s climb up the leagues.
Brien said after his phone conversation with Taylor he told his mother what had happened.
“And I broke down in tears. I knew I couldn’t live with it for the rest of my life, so I went to adults who I trusted, who I thought would do something about it,” he said.
Richardson told the BBC he could not recall the conversation and denied he would have been involved in telling a player not to go public about abuse.
English football’s governing body the Football Association (FA) is currently carrying out an independent review into its handling of abuse allegations in the years before 2005. Brien has given evidence to the review.
Several ex-professional players have come forward publicly to allege abuse at the hands of youth coaches after Andy Woodward revealed last November he was abused by a convicted child molester at the Crewe Alexandra club.