A former Premier League footballer has revealed how he narrowly escaped a gang rape after being trafficked to Britain as a teenager…
Ex-Watford player Al Bangura was born in Sierra Leone but fled to Guinea aged 15 where he met a Frenchman who promised to take him to the UK and help him become a professional footballer.
But instead, the 27-year-old ended up in a house in London where he was targeted by a group of men who tried to rape him.
Bangura had grown up in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown and was the oldest son of the leader of a local cult, but he had no intention of succeeding his father.
When he refused to take part in the secret society they threatened to kill him and mutilate him so he fled to Guinea. After sleeping rough, he soon became friends with a Frenchman, who, at the time he didn’t know what grooming him for sex trafficking.
He promised to help him fulfill his dream of playing professional football and the trafficker smuggled the 16-year-old Bangura into Britain, before leaving him in a house in London.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Show, Al Bangura said:
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. 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.
Bangura managed to escape this horrific ordeal by getting to the Home Office where he claimed asylum and was given a right to stay as an unaccompanied minor.
He went to stay in a children’s home in Haringey before playing for a local team and was than spotted by a Watford scout, before signing for the club’s academy.
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. It’s quite emotional to talk about it now, I’m happy I’ve got over it, but it’s sad for me.
Now a free agent after leaving League One side Coventry in May, Bangura is now working with the Premier League to raise awareness of the increasing number of players in their teens, who are being tricked into leaving Africa for Europe.
Up to 15,000 African teenagers every year are taken abroad on the false promise that they will be in contention to become a professional footballer according to international charity Foot Solidaire.