Former Manchester United midfielder, Quinton Fortune, has described his spell playing in Spain as the lowest point of his career and his life.
The South Africa international was picked up by Tottenham as a youth player spending his formative years in North London, but he made his senior football breakthrough in Spain.
Fortune signed for Atletico Madrid as a teenager and would spend four years in Spain before joining the Red Devils.
The midfielder says that when he was loaned out to Mallorca immediately after signing for Atletico, he experienced racial abuse at the hands of a teammate.
Fortune detailed how he felt stranded and isolated in a strange country, and the management of the club offered him no support at all.
“The lowest point of my life was in Spain, not just as a football player but as a human being,” Fortune told Sky Sports.
“I was signed for Atletico Madrid, and they loaned me out to Mallorca, and my own teammate racially abused me in training.
“Not just that, because I didn’t know what to do, I was 17-18 years old, didn’t know who to turn to. I was on my own, didn’t speak the language. On top of that, the manager didn’t communicate with me. I had no support – I was just being told to sit to the side of the pitch.
“I prayed so much, I don’t think I’ve prayed so much in my life just to get away from that club.
“I’m sure many players went through a worse experience than me. But that for me was the lowest point because I had no mum or dad or brothers or anyone to turn to and help me.
“This guy, he is a senior player in the team, and he is saying all these things to me, and it was like wow! Lucky for me, I got out of there and went back to Madrid. I was so happy just to get out of the environment, and I made some very good friends in Madrid and kind of carried on my football. I’m sure many players went through worse, but you need support, and it needs changing.”
Fortune would go on to earn a Premier League winner’s medal with United in 2003 while also playing in two World Cups for South Africa.
Since retiring from the game, Fortune has gone into coaching with Manchester United helping him earn his badges.
He counts himself among the growing number of players who are coming forward to reveal the extent of racism in professional sport and has encouraged others to speak openly about their experiences.