Rooney urges players to stop 'suffering in silence'

England captain Wayne Rooney wants players who have suffered abuse to call the helpline. Credit: PA

Wayne Rooney has urged victims of sex abuse within football to come forward and "stop suffering in silence".

The England captain encouraged any player who had been abused throughout their career to call the NSPCC's dedicated hotline to report it.

The Manchester United star said: "It's awful that some of my colleagues have suffered this way whilst playing the sport that I and they love.

"Andy has been really brave to come forward and I would encourage anyone who has or is suffering from abuse to call the NSPCC's new football helpline.

"It's important that people know that it's ok to speak out, there is help available and that they don't need to suffer in silence."

From left to right: Andy Woodward, David White, Steve Walters, and Paul Stewart. Credit: PA

It comes after former Manchester City star David White became the fourth ex-footballer to speak publicly about being the victim of child sex abuse.

White, along with former Crewe players Andy Woodward and Steve Walters, say they were abused by former Crewe and Manchester City scout and convicted paedophile Barry Bennell.

Meanwhile, ex-Tottenham and Liverpool star Paul Stewart has also come forward with sexual abuse claims against another coach.

Rooney praised Woodward for his bravery in being the first to speak publicly about his appalling experiences and assured others that they too would be given sympathy and support.

Barry Bennell was jailed in 1998 for child abuse. Credit: PA

On Thursday, FA chairman, Greg Clarke, wrote to the 30,000 football clubs in England to assure them the governing body was investigating and redoubling its efforts to ensure it never happens again.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless welcomed Rooney's involvement in the campaign to safeguard the game's next generation of players and find justice for those so badly wronged in the past.

He said: "I am delighted that Wayne has backed our helpline in support of his fellow players.

"He's a hero to millions, hugely admired by others at every level of the game, and I hope his words give courage to those who may be afraid of coming forward.

"We know that men are less likely to speak up about abuse, and from the response to our hotline so far it's clear that this could be the tip of the iceberg, so we are very grateful to Wayne for lending his support."

Following the revelations, Cheshire Police launched an investigation, while Crewe and Manchester City football clubs have started internal reviews.

The NSPCC hotline is available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

The hotline, which has the backing of the FA, went live on Thursday and had already received more than 50 calls in two hours.