Mark Marshall says he cried after being racially abused as a 16-year-old on a football pitch.

The Charlton winger was playing for Hoxton-based football academy Crown and Manor when he experienced racism first-hand.

Marshall, who was announced as an ambassador for anti-discrimination group Kick It Out on Monday, told News Shopper: “I was 16 when I first experienced racism.

“I was playing for Crown and Manor, an independent academy. We played against a men’s team in the Middlesex County League and an opposition player called me an effing N-word. So it was a bit of a shock to my system because I’d never experienced that before.

“I actually started crying - I didn't know how to react. I didn't go to the police. I didn't cry like tears, it was more like anger. 

“It was a shock to my system because you hear about these things happening, but until it happens to you, you never know how you're going to deal with it. So back then it was a cry out of anger and frustration.

“I can’t sit down and say I’ve experienced racism a lot in football, you shouldn't experience it anyway, but from my footballing experience, football is definitely changing for the better.

“You have these organisations like Kick It Out that are popping up and helping people have more of an understanding about how a comment can have an impact on an individual.”

Marshall’s most recent experience of racism came in a pre-season friendly against Burnley in 2016 as a Bradford player.

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A fan was directing abuse at the Jamaican-born footballer, who reported it to the referee.

The 30-year-old said: “He kept on calling me things and he saw I wasn't reacting.

“I dealt with that a bit differently because of my age and experience so I didn't react in the manner that I would've if I was younger. I called the ref and it got sorted out. The fan was taken out of the stadium.

“I remember when I had interviews with the FA [Football Association] and PFA [Professional Footballers’ Association] afterwards, they asked me how I wanted to go about it.

“I said ‘listen, I wouldn't want to impose a stadium ban on him, he just needs to learn to educate himself’ because forgiveness is a good thing.”

By becoming an ambassador for the Kick It Out campaign, Marshall hopes to pass on his experience and advice to youngsters.

He added: “It’s important that we’re a good example to the generation that’s coming because discrimination is never a nice thing.

“So to be able to share my experiences and tell them how they can overcome it and react to it, it’s a good thing for me because it means I’m helping the next generation.

“Even I need to be educated on more things like this, but I’m always willing to listen and give my advice.”

Marshall spoke to News Shopper at a Charlton Athletic Community Day of Action event, which aimed to educate Greenwich primary school pupils about equality, diversity and discriminatory behaviour.

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