Football: Matt Le Tissier accuses former Southampton coach of 'very wrong' actions

Former Southampton player Matt Le Tissier, 48, said that he and other young players had been given naked massages during his time at the club by former youth coach Bob Higgins.
Former Southampton player Matt Le Tissier, 48, said that he and other young players had been given naked massages during his time at the club by former youth coach Bob Higgins.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (THE GUARDIAN) - The former Southampton footballer Matt Le Tissier has revealed that he witnessed inappropriate behaviour by a coach at the centre of abuse allegations during his time at the club.

He said on Tuesday that he and other young players were given naked massages by Bob Higgins, a former youth officer at Southampton.

Though the former player said he was not a victim of abuse himself, he said the behaviour was "very wrong".

He told the BBC: "Everyone was kind of naked and getting thrown on this bed … and a very quick massage - it was uncomfortable… It's very, very wrong for a start - looking back on it, you think it's wrong but as a young boy you thought, 'Is this normal?'

"It's pretty disgusting. What went on is not normal behaviour. When you hear the stories of naked soapy massages, hairy bum competitions... you look back at it now and think, 'Hang on, what was going on?'.

"Obviously boys talk at that age, they take the Mickey, it kind of gets covered up as a bit of banter at that stage. But as you grow into an adult, you look at it and think, 'That's not right.'

"I would like to think the bravery of the boys that have come out will encourage everyone else who experienced those kind of things."

In a later tweet, he clarified: "For the record. I've never felt like I've been abused. Still don't. Please don't feel sorry for me, I'm all good. Just stated what happened."

Higgins has denied any wrongdoing and was acquitted of sexual abuse charges in 1992.