Former professional football coach Barry Bennell is at the centre of a child abuse scandal after ex-players alleged the convicted paedophile abused them as trainees.

Former England international David White and former Crewe Alexandra stars Steve Walters and Andy Woodward have claimed they were abused by Bennell in the 1980s and 1990s.

Bennell, 62, has been jailed three times for committing a string of child abuse offences in the UK and the US. He was sentenced to two years in prison in May 2015 for abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1980, who he invited to take part in a football course in Macclesfield.

After pleading guilty at Chester Crown Court to child abuse charges, Bennell admitted he was a "monster" whose "depravity... has ruined lives".

While working as a professional coach for decades, the serial child molester committed a number of abuses against boys while working for teams in the north west and the Midlands.

Barry Bennell
An early mugshot of serial paedophile Barry Bennell Cheshire Police

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Bennell was employed by Crewe Alexandra, scouting talent aged nine to 14 hoping to make it as professional footballers. He also had connections with Stoke City and Manchester City, as well as working with junior teams across Cheshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and Greater Manchester.

Bennell was sacked by Crewe Alexandra in 1992 for reasons which have never become clear.

As well working as a footballing coach and talent-spotter, Bennell was employed as a residential care worker in a children's home in Crewe and Macclesfield in the late 70s and early 1980s.

Among some of the places Bennell abused young children he "cherry picked" from teams include the children's homes, his house in the Peak District, training pitches and football courses in Spain and the US.

David White
Former Man City player David White is among those to claim Bennell abused them as a child Getty Images

His offending first came to light after he was jailed in the US for raping a British boy during a football tour in 1994, two years after he was sacked by Crewe Alexandra.

Bennell, who was described by US authorities as having an "almost insatiable appetite" for young boys, was deported back to the UK upon his release, at which point more victims came forward.

Following an investigation by Cheshire, Derbyshire and North Wales police forces, Bennell was arrested and sentenced to nine years in prison in 1998 after admitting 23 charges of sexual offences against six boys aged nine to 15, with a further 22 charges left on his file.

After his release in 2004, Bennell was jailed for a third time after admitted two counts of indecent assault on a male under the age of 14, and two counts of enticing a boy under the age of 14 to commit an act of gross indecency in relation to the 12-year-old boy in Macclesfield.

Speaking to the Times, Woodward - who made the first of the more recent claims against Bennell - said the scandal surrounding the football coach could be "potentially worse than Savile."

Barry Bennell Jimmy Savile
Barry Bennell and Jimmy Savile Police/Getty Images

Cheshire Police have confirmed six other people have come forward with child abuse allegations since the new claims against Bennell emerged.

In a statement, Crewe Alexandra said: "We are a proud football club and would always take any allegation seriously. Any form of abuse has no place in football or society.

"We have already concurred with the statements made by the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League that described Andy Woodward's ordeal as 'heartbreaking' and praised him for his 'immense courage'."