Former Watford midfielder Al Bangura has revealed his harrowing story of being a victim of child trafficking and being forced into prostitution.
The midfielder reveals that he was just 14 when he was sex trafficked to England from Africa. He was brought by being tempted to play football, but what he saw was a grim, dirty reality. In his BBC tell-all interview, he has shared his story.
He was 14 when his parents told him to become the leader of the secret society his late father used to head in Sierra Leone, he refused.
He says: “I said I didn’t think this was something I wanted to get involved with. I want to play football and I’m going to school so I don’t want to do that
So he travelled to neighbouring Guinea where he met a French man, who tempted him.
“I didn’t know he had another different intention – to get me into the sex trade”- according to Bangura.
“All of a sudden I saw two or three guys come around me, trying to rape me and make me do stuff,” he said.
“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.”
” I requested help from a Nigerian man, who told me to go to the Home Office and claim asylum. Because I was 16, I was later given a two-year right to stay.”
“It was so emotional because after a few months I’d kind of forgotten about what-what I’d been through, it had been sad, 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,” he explains.
“It’s quite emotional to talk about it now, I’m happy I’ve got over it, but it’s sad for me.”
“It’s not worth the paper it’s written on, it’s just for window dressing by Fifa, they have given get out clause for clubs to do what they like”
“There should be a blanket ban on the signing of minors – it shouldn’t be allowed at all, Uefa says this should be in place, with no caveats at all. That would help reduce the numbers.”
“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.”
It takes great courage to come out open with this kind of things, now Bangura is involved in charity. He says – “I think there’re loads of vulnerable kids in Africa who want to achieve what I’ve achieved in my life.”
The former Watford and Blackpool midfielder is now a free agent and on the verge of retiring.