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Retired international midfielder Kieron Dyer has revealed his story of sexual abuse suffered at the hands of a family member when he was a child.
In an honest and distressing interview with The Daily Mail’s Oliver Holt, the 33-time England representative opened up about how the incident 28 years ago led him to denounce any evidence of vulnerability – even from his own son Kie. Dyer’s great-uncle Kenny performing a sexual act on him and then making him keep it a secret had a direct relation to the controversial behaviour of his playing days, such as his notorious on-pitch fight with Newcastle United teammate Lee Bowyer, and the Ayia Napa sex tape he was involved in.
“I find it hard to have eye contact with people,” Dyer told Holt. “I feel embarrassed. There is a trust issue. I don’t want people to see my eyes. I don’t want them to see my vulnerability.”
It was only when Joey Barton offered the services of Peter Kay to his Queens Park Rangers colleagues in 2011 that Dyer was able to release the burden. Kay, who died in 2013, was the co-founder of the Sporting Chance clinic that helps sportspeople deal with alcohol, drugs, and gambling problems. Dyer sat down with him at QPR’s training ground.
“If I hadn’t opened up to Peter Kay I would have been alone later in my life,” Dyer explained. “I would have pushed everyone away. All my loved ones would have been out of my life. I didn’t want to show any vulnerability so I pushed people away. I probably would have lost my children. I would have been on my own living out the years as a sad old man.”
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He added: “I didn’t realise it was the abuse that formed the person I became. I didn’t recognise what I was doing. I owe a great deal to Joey Barton and Peter Kay.”
Dyer was mercifully spared from the sexual abuse scandal that is permeating British football. He hopes that his bravery in telling his story inspires others to be at peace with their own emotions, rather than bottling up the abuse they have been subjected to and potentially hurting themselves and their loved ones.
“They told me that girls come forward a lot more than boys,” Dyer continued. “There is still a taboo about it and more boys keep it a secret, like I did. I’m hoping that by me telling my story, maybe lads who are too young to relate to great players like Paul Stewart and David White might read about what happened to me and understand how important it is to get help.”
Dyer played for hometown club Ipswich Town, Newcastle, West Ham United, QPR, and Middlesbrough before a serious leg break ended his career. He appeared 225 times in the Premier League, and travelled with England for the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004.