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Ex-Premier League player reveals he was 'trafficked for sex'

NewsBy Sunday World
Al Bangura spoke about an horriic experience he went through when he was first brought to the UK
Al Bangura spoke about an horriic experience he went through when he was first brought to the UK

A former Premier League player has spoken about how he was brought to the UK from Africa to work in the sex industry as a 14-year-old before making his name as a footballer.

Al Bangura is now retired from the game at just 27 but today he spoke to the BBC about the horrific experience that brought him to the UK, where he made his name as a footballer for the best part of a decade.

Bangura was born in Sierra Leone and when his father died at the age of 14 he was supposed to succeed him as head of a secret society.

He refused and went to neighbouring Guinea, where a French man he met arranged for him to travel to Europe, first to France and then on to the UK.

Bangura says the man told him he could help him fulfill his dream of being a footballer but it was all a sham, as he discovered when he was brought to a building and left alone.

"All of a sudden I saw two or three guys come around me, trying to rape me and make me do stuff," he says.

"Because I was young and I was small, I just started screaming. They probably thought I knew what I was there for - obviously I know what I came over here for, I was here to play football.

"I was just crying and proper screaming and I tried to make my way out - I was cold, I was crying, I was shaking, I didn't know what to do, I was all over the place.

"I made my way outside. I didn't know where to start, I thought it was the end of my life."

He met a NIgerian man who told him to go to the Home Office to claim asylum. As he was 16 he got a two year right to stay.

By then he was also playing football and had been signed by Watford.

Bangura went on to play for the Hornets from 2005 until 2009 - including a season in the Premier League - and after spells with Brighton, Blackpool and most recently Coventry he retired this summer.

Bangura now works with a charity that highlights the plight of young footballers brought from Africa to Europe to follow their dream, only for it to turn into nightmare for some.

"There's loads of kids who might not even tell their parents, or their parents might use their last money to make sure they come over here to play football and they end up doing something else.

"It's important for me, having been through what I've been through in my life, for me to say I've been through that, I've survived, but what about the young kids coming up, will they survive, are they going to be able to cope with that, so we really need to find a way to stop all of that."

For the full interview, click here.