A RETIRED footballer who trained under alleged paedophile coach Bob Higgins has told a court he became so scared he would be left alone with the defendant that he developed a phobia of eating at other people’s houses.

Higgins, 65, who ran youth team coaching for Southampton Football Club, is on trial at Salisbury Crown Court accused of 50 counts of indecent assault against 24 complainants between 1971 and 1996.

The alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in a police interview video that he had transferred to train with Higgins because of his reputation as the “messiah you needed to impress” to get into professional football.

He said the coach arranged for him to stay at his home on several occasions to make it easier for him to attend training sessions.

The complainant, who was 14 at the time, said that each time he stayed it would end up with him and Higgins sitting on a couch watching television after the defendant’s wife and any other boys had gone to bed.

He said: “I was downstairs watching television with him, he would engineer it that each time I stayed he would always want to be in contact with me, sat with his arm around me, he would pull me towards him.

“I felt terrified, I didn’t know where it was going, just completely scared and confused.”

The alleged victim added that in later life he developed a phobia about eating at other people’s houses because he had been so scared.

He said: “I was so uptight, stomach in knots. I just ran in front of everybody to vomit in their sink. I was so scared I would be on my own with him.”

He added: “From that day I have had a phobia about eating around people’s houses unless they are close friends or family.”

Higgins, of Southampton, denies the charges and the trial continues.