Paul Canoville has recalled how a Chelsea fan recently apologised for racially abusing him at Stamford Bridge in the 1980s.
The former Chelsea star, who was the club’s first black player, admits he couldn’t even tell his mother what he was experiencing during his playing career.
And speaking ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Tottenham on Tuesday night, Canoville has called on fans to take responsibility and help to finally eradicate racism in football.
He told talkSPORT presenter Jim White: “A young man came up to me and said he wished to apologise.
“At that time I couldn’t understand why until he told me. He said he was one of the lads that used to racially abuse me during my playing days at Chelsea.
“He explained: ‘I didn’t know any better, I was just following my old man. But I realise what I was doing now and I’ve told my kids how to respect and understand what racism means.”
The former Chelsea star opened up about the abuse he received in the 80s and admitted his mother didn’t realise the extent until she watched a recent Ian Wright documentary.
MORE: Chelsea issue warning to fans about anti-Semitic behaviour during Tottenham clash
He added: “It was shocking. I didn’t let on, it wasn’t me being stubborn, it was me trying to ignore but it was difficult.
“I didn’t tell my mum, she only realised when watching the programme ‘Out Of Their Skin’ with Ian Wright.
“That’s the only time she knew what I was receiving at football. She sent me a text apologising for not knowing.”
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Chelsea have dominated headlines recently after the alleged racial abuse of Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge and anti-Semitic chanting during a Europa League match in Hungary.
And while the club have promised the strongest possible action against any discriminatory behaviour during the Spurs clash, Canoville believes that clubs and fans must do more to ensure the total eradication of racism in the game.
“I think it’s double standards,” the former winger said. “I’m hearing that if Chelsea use the Y-word, they’ll be arrested. But if Tottenham use the Y-word, it’s okay.
“That’s not right. It shouldn’t be used, totally. This has been going on for far too long.
“It’s been continuous and continuous until now I can’t take it anymore.
“Chelsea are bringing extra stewards, we’re taking it seriously. But for the fans themselves, come on man! You love this game just like I love this game, let’s not bring it down to this extent. Let’s enjoy football.
“What’s so difficult about enjoying football? Let’s give them the proper support.”