Steve Walters considers today the first day of a new life having seen serial child abuser Barry Bennell found guilty of 43 counts of sexual abuse of young footballers.
Walters was one of Bennell’s victims while a youngster starting his career at Crewe Alexandra, and he was the second to come forward to accuse the 63-year-old in November 2016 , following Andy Woodward’s interview in the Guardian earlier that month .
Further victims stepped forward following those harrowing accounts of Bennell’s actions, and their decision to speak out has finally been rewarded.
Bennell has been found guilty of 43 counts of sexual abuse of young footballers , and he will be required to appear at Liverpool Crown Court at midday on Monday, February 19 for his sentencing.
In the aftermath of Bennell being found guilty of sexual abuse on an ‘industrial scale’, Walters spoke to talkSPORT to reveal just how he felt now that the man who haunted his childhood is set to face justice.
“[I’m] totally relieved to be honest,” the 46-year-old said. “It’s been a long old year, but finally justice has given myself and the other guys closure and the opportunity to finally move on.
“As far as I’m concerned, the rebuilding starts today. He has no power over me anymore.
“When I was looking at the screen, he still has the arrogance, he’s still trying to deny what he’s done. But no longer does that scrawny little man have any power over me.
“Today is [a] new beginning; onwards and upwards and looking forwards not backwards.
“I’ve got to move on now. Today is massive for us all, but, as I said, I’ve got to move on. I can’t let him win.
“I do just feel so much freer now; happy is not the word… it’s elation - I’m absolutely elated.”
Walters’ decision to step forward, like Woodward’s, was praised as it opened the door to further victims revealing crimes committed by Bennell and other accused abusers.
And though Walters will never forget the harrowing events of his youth, nor the impact they have had upon his life, he feels a positive can come out of them.
Walters continued: “It is hard to come to terms with. My career has been ruined, my life has been ruined, by this monster. My mum and dad trusted that their boy would be safe playing football , and unfortunately that never happened.
“There’s that many of us, and there are still others out there. We want other people - other survivors - to come forward.
“We’ve said on numerous occasions we want to turn this huge negative into a massive positive now - that’s why we feel so strongly with the Offside Trust.
“We want to support others and make sure others don’t suffer in the way we have.”
“That will give us satisfaction; if it can prevent anything happening to any other child we will be happy men.
“So let’s stop this happening anywhere.
“We need parents to be vigilante all the time, we need more education amongst the schools and the public need to be made more aware.”
When asked if he will return to court for the sentencing, Walters responded: “Most definitely. Monday at 12pm I’ll be there.”