Former England manager Graham Taylor helped protect a paedophile employed at his former club Aston Villa by discouraging his young victims from coming forward, according to reports.
The independent inquiry into child abuse within football heard how Taylor, who died in January aged 72, told one abuse victim to "move on" when he attempted to come forward with allegations against the club's scout, Ted Langford.
The victim Tony Brien, who waived his anonymity after other professional footballers came forward with details of abuse, told the inquiry that Taylor discouraged him from going to the police when he was 18 and just breaking into the first team at Leicester City, telling him "Can you really be doing with the abuse from the terraces?"
Brien said he was abused by Langford numerous times while he was a youth player at Dunlop Terriers, including being told how the scout he needed to check his sperm to see if he had special "footballer's genes" before sexually assaulting him.
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When he was 16, Brien was signed by Leicester City by then youth manager Dave Richardson on the advice of Langford. Richardson and Langford then both moved to Aston Villa in 1987, which is when Brien warned the club about the paedophile scout, reports the Guardian.
Langford was sacked by Aston Villa in 1989, two years after the club was allegedly first warned that he was a paedophile. Langford, who died in 2012, was eventually convicted of a range of offences that took place between 1976 and 1989 and jailed for three years in 2007.
Giving evidence to the inquiry, Brien said: "They [Taylor and Richardson] discouraged me from going forward and never offered me a chance to go to the police or anything like that.
"[They told me] You're a good player – sweep it under the carpet, son, move on," reports the Guardian.
A second person, who has not been named, has also come forward to claim they were abused by Langford as a boy from 1987 to 1989, including at Villa's training ground.
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Questions have already been asked about what Aston Villa knew about Langford at the time after Brien claimed Richardson persuaded him not to got to police during an interview with the BBC.
It has now emerged Taylor may also have been involved in discouraging victims to come forward.
In a statement released in January, Richardson said: "I took these [allegations] extremely seriously and began making enquiries.
"These led me to speak to the parents of two young footballers at Aston Villa who each told me their sons had been abused by Ted Langford. I asked them if they were going to report the allegations to the police or if they wanted me to. After consulting with each other, both sets of parents told me that they did not want the matter reported to the police.
A spokesperson for Aston Villa added: "Aston Villa would encourage anyone with any allegation or concern regarding safeguarding or other potential wrongdoing to contact the relevant authorities.
"Allegations relating to Ted Langford and involving the club are subject to ongoing legal proceedings and it is therefore not appropriate for the club to comment further on this matter."