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Offiah opens up about racist abuse

Martin Offiah playing for Wigan Warriors

Great Britain legend Martin Offiah says he used racism as motivation to become one of the greatest players in the game.

Born to Nigerian parents in London, Offiah moved to the North of England in 1987 and forged his reputation at Widnes.

Renowned for his lightening speed, he went on to become one of the greatest try scorers in rugby league history and was part of the formidable Wigan team in the early to mid-nineties

Offiah also claimed a whole host of other individual awards and was inducted into the Rugby Football League Hall of Fame in 2013.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the 33-time GB international though and he has opened up about the racist abuse he endured during the early part of his career.

“I’ve experienced blatant racism,” Offiah told Sky Sports My Icon series.

“People calling me names, being abused by spectators – or on rugby league pitches – and experiencing direct racism from players in international matches.

“Racism comes in different dials. I have seen the full transition from the days when you just had to keep quiet and accept it to when it became an issue and people began to speak out.

“Due to a strong mindset I overcame these things and turned it from a disadvantage into an advantage.”

Offiah says that curbing the abuse further still remains a priority and that everyone, not just athletes, should look at setting an example to others.

“A lot of people say we have got a long way to go, but lets not forget that we’ve also come a long way. I hear this question all the time that as a role model you should act a certain way.

“I think everyone on the planet is a role model. I’m a role model to my kids and I’m a role model to other people’s kids. I think we’re all role models and we’ve just got to be true to ourselves and live our lives.”

Credit: Varley Picture Agency

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