Ched Evans has released a video statement following his release from prison - pleading to be given a ‘second chance’.
STAR EDITOR’S OPINION: No way back to Sheffield United for rapist Ched Evans.
The former Sheffield United striker, who was released from prison on Friday having served half of a five-year sentence for raping a woman in a hotel room, sat by girlfriend Natasha Massey as he read the brief statement.
He apologised to Miss Massey for his ‘act of infidelity’ but made no direct mention of his victim.
Evans added he was ‘determined to continue the fight to clear my name’ and he hopes to be able to return to professional football.
Many Blades fans have called for Evans to be allowed to return to the club but almost 150,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Bramall Lane club not to welcome him back.
Here is the full transcript of his video statement:
“In May 2011 at a hotel in North Wales by cheating on my partner Natasha, I hurt the woman I love with all my heart.
“Since that night, I have constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that has been done on so many fronts because of it.
“The support that has been shown by Natasha, our friends and family during the trial and time spent in prison has kept me strong.
“It can’t have been an easy thing to have stood by someone who the court found guilty of such a destructive act. I will be forever grateful.
“Even though I was released from prison, I’m determined to continue the fight to clear my name and it is public knowledge that an application to refer my case back to the Court of Appeal has recently been submitted to the Criminal Case Review Commission by my lawyers. The application seeks to demonstrate that acts I engaged in on that night were consensual in nature and not rape.
“I made an incredibly foolish decision and failed all those people who trusted and believed in me, most of all Tasha and our friends.
“It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to be permitted to play professional football. Now I have served the custodial part of my sentence of two-and-a-half-years it is my hope that I’m able to return to football.
“If that is possible, then I would do so with humility having learnt a very painful lesson.
“I would like a second chance but I know not everyone would agree. I don’t believe I have a given right to play again but for any club to take me on I have learnt a valuable lesson and know that over time I could prove myself to be a positive influence, not just on the pitch but also in the community. Thank you for listening to me.”