By Adebayo Williams
A former Chelsea footballer has revealed that he was sexually abused while he played for the club about 40 years ago. The player, Gary Johnson, told Mirror that he was paid N25 million (£50,000) to keep the issue a secret. Johnson, narrating how it all started, said he had been 13 at the time when chief scout, Eddie Heath, started abusing him.
He said Heath, who is now deceased, had deliberately been friendly with his family seeking their permission to take him to games. The abuse started when Johnson had a row with his father and had gone to spend the night at Heath’s house in 1973. Johnson said the scout had given him some drinks, biscuits and chocolates. The night took a twist when Heath slotted in a pornographic film which they saw together. He recalled that that night he was abused by the scout.
He stated that the scout had professed love to him and had performed sexual acts on him hundreds of times for three to four years. He had thought the act was normal and he was enjoying the attention.
Johnson said they had been warned to be wary of the scout but they had childishly ignored the warning because they could not understand what the fuss was about. He revealed that Heath had threesomes with him and other boys. He lamented the damage done to his childhood and the police’s refusal to listen to his complaint. He said he had also approached the Professional Footballers Association but they failed to return his calls.
‘When we had summer holiday games, the kit locker was in the changing rooms and he was always there, you thought nothing of it then, but word was going around to be wary of him – but at 12 you did not know that meant. I was just too young.
”He came to the house to meet my parents, he would have been to a game.
”He built up a personal relationship with them. Then he would say, ‘I am going to a game, can I take Gary?’ and that was the start, I realise it is grooming now but that term was not around then.
”The first encounter sexually was around 1973, I was about 13 or 14. I had a row with my father, bad day at school and I confided in Eddie when he turned up at the house. I said to him, ‘Can I come and stay at your house?’ because I had stayed a couple of times before and nothing had happened.
“He always had boys staying with him at his house in Leytonstone. I went with him this particular time and went up to his house and he sat me down with a Coke, crisps, chocolate, saw I was still upset.
”He said, ‘This will make you feel better’, and he put on a pornographic film. I had not heard of that, they were under the counter, and I thought ‘why not’ but I got aroused and the next thing I knew, my trousers were around my ankles,” Johnson said.
The former striker, now a 57-year-old cab driver in London, said a law firm, Slater and Gordon, had helped him reach Chelsea for a compensation.