Paul Stewart, who ended a glittering football career by helping Workington Reds win promotion, has enlisted a group of sports stars to help prevent all forms of abuse against youngsters.

Stewart, 57, has been working with High Speed Training to develop a new survivor-led course to protect rising sports stars.

It comes amid worrying research revealing that a third (32 per cent) of parents are unsure whether their child’s sports coaches have undertaken safeguarding training.

The project is being backed by Stewart’s former Spurs team-mate Gary Lineker; rugby league hero Kevin Sinfield; Ryder Cup golfing winner Ian Poulter; England and British Lions stalwart Brian Moore; and Olympic athletics medallist Marilyn Okoro.

Stewart, who has been open about his own experiences of abuse in sports as a child, was one of the first players to come forward.

He is also a safeguarding advocate who provides training for organisations like the English Football League, using his own experience as an example.

Stewart was abused by his coach for four years up to the age of 15 and the abuse has had a profound effect on his life, despite his successful career.

He had spoken in 2016 for the first time about the abuse he had suffered in childhood at the hands of his late coach Frank Roper.

That had been kept a secret from his family for his entire adult life.

He has spoken about it publicly in the hope that it could prevent other children from suffering in the future.

He says now: “I am delighted that, by working with safeguarding and training experts High Speed Training, I have been able to produce something which can make such a positive impact on an issue that is personal to my life.

“By developing this course, I am determined to turn what was such an upsetting childhood experience into something positive for children in sport."

Concerningly, one in ten parents stated that they were unsure whether they would be confident in identifying the signs of abuse, be that physical, sexual, or emotional, in a child. Given that 86 per cent of children participate in sport, these numbers are stark.

This is also documented in the recent Truth Project Thematic Report on Child Sexual Abuse in Sports, which stated that ‘adults failed to respond appropriately to behavioural changes or other indicators of concern in children, even when these were very apparent.’

Further research by the NSPCC also highlighted the lack of parental knowledge when it comes to safeguarding in sports, with 20 per cent of parents whose children attend sports and leisure clubs admitting that they would not know who to speak to if they had any worries about a child’s welfare at the club.

The 90-minute course also covers cyber-bullying and trolling on social media.

Stewart, who played for Blackpool, Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Sunderland and Stoke, was capped three times for England.

He ended his career with Workington Reds, playing 55 games between 1998 and 2000, and scoring 15 goals, helping Reds win the North Western Trains League title and his appearances put hundreds on the Borough Park gates.