Football

Al Bangura tells of how he was trafficked for sex before becoming a Premier League player

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Former Premier League footballer Al Bangura has told the harrowing story of how he was brought to the UK and forced into male prostitution before going on to play for Watford in the top flight.

Bangura was 14 when he left Sierra Leone to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional footballer. Having refused to follow in his father's footsteps, heading a secret society in his homeland, he traveled to Guinea.

That is where he met a man who promised to help him live his dream. They travelled through France and on to the UK. Once they reached these shores the man left Bangura in a strange room.

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Speaking to the BBC, the 27-year-old explained: "All of a sudden I saw two or three guys come around me, trying to rape me and make me do stuff.

"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.

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"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."

After he had escaped the building, Bangura sought help from a Nigerian man who advised him to go to the Home Office and claim asylum. At 16 he was given a two-year right to stay.

That is where things started looking up and soon the Sierra Leone native was given the opportunity to play for the Hornets. 

Bangura made his debut for Watford in 2005 and went on to make 62 league appearances for the London-based club.

He was also threatened with deportation back to Sierra Leone in 2007 before the decision was overturned.

Looking back at everything that happened, he said: "It's quite emotional to talk about it now, I'm happy I've got over it, but it's sad for me."

Having been released by Coventry City in the summer, he is now working with the Premier League to help raise awareness of the growing number of teenagers being tricked by immoral agents into leaving Africa.

Figures from non-governmental organisation Foot Solidaire, who help send boys back to Africa, estimate 15,000 teenage footballers - many under-age, leave 10 west African countries a year.

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Topics:
Premier League
Watford
Football

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