I told him everything about Gary. He said it wasn’t my fault and we should speak to my mum and dad. He came with me and helped me speak with them.
Names and other details have been changed to protect identities
He bought me gifts and said I was special...
“I have Asperger syndrome, which means I have problems with social interaction. At school this makes it difficult for me to make friends – they don’t understand my condition and I’m often left on my own.
My passions are football and football online games.When I play football or my favourite football games online, it makes me feel happy.
Once, another player, Gary, started to chat to me online when I was playing a football game we liked playing as the same team and we had lots of things to talk about.
We started to chat nearly every day and I enjoyed talking to someone who didn’t make me feel left out. He asked if I played football after school, I said yes. He asked me where I played and which school I went to, as he was my friend I told him. He said he’d come and me where I played and I told him - he said he’d come to my next match.
When I played football the next week, Gary turned up to watch. He was a lot older than he said he was, he said he was 18 and I was 12, but in real life he was my dad’s age.
But as we were friends he said it didn’t matter. He buy me gifts and said I was special. Every week he’d come to my matches and bring me my favourite chocolate bar and drinks. He’d buy me more football games and top up for my mobile so we could text. He said we were best friends.
During the summer holidays, when my mum and dad were working, he asked me if I wanted to go for a drive to watch my favourite football team. We went and it was fun.
Our drives became every week and then things changed. He introduced me to some of his friends. He said that as me and him were friends, I must be nice to his friends too. He said if I didn’t he’d tell everyone about our chats online when we talked about loads of cool stuff and I’d taken some silly pictures and sent them to him.
So I went along with what was happening for over a year. Each week Gary would take me to a ‘party’ where his friends would be.
I was very upset and hurt and I didn’t really know what to do.
One day, my football coach asked me if I was OK cos I hadn’t been speaking very much recently, I have become addicted to my mobile phone and my love of the game seemed to have disappeared. He said I could tell him whatever the matter was and he would help.
I told him everything about Gary. He said it wasn’t my fault and we should speak to my mum and dad. He came with me and helped me speak with them. We reported the Gary to the police and they took him away. He is in prison now.
I found that when I told my coach things started to get better. I’m now at college doing well and my love for football has returned.”