Former Sunderland and Manchester City midfielder Adam Johnson has said he “deeply” regrets his actions after he was freed from prison where he served three years for child sex offences.
Johnson, who played for England 12 times, said on Tuesday he wanted to move on with his life after engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old fan.
The 31-year-old was released from prison on March 22 after serving half of his six-year prison sentence.
He admitted two charges relating to kissing the girl and meeting her with intent after grooming her.
And he was convicted by a jury of a further offence of sexual activity with a child when they met in his Range Rover in 2015, a conviction which he unsuccessfully attempted to overturn.
In a statement to the Press Association on Tuesday, Johnson said he “would like to take this opportunity to publicly express my remorse for my actions” which “led to my conviction and imprisonment”.
“I am very sorry for the effect my conduct had on those directly and indirectly involved. It should never have happened and I deeply regret what I did,” he added.
“I now want to concentrate on the future and want to demonstrate through my actions that I am committed to repaying them for their support.”
Asked whether the future for Johnson meant a return to football, his father Dave Johnson said “no comment”.
There has been debate over whether the former winger should be allowed to return to his lucrative career, with convictions charity Unlock saying he should not be “punished forever”.
But it is expected that his route back to English football would be very hard, while his conviction will make it challenging to play abroad.
As a sex offender, he has to register his address and bank details with police and inform officers of any intention to travel out of the country.
During sentencing, Judge Jonathan Rose said the victim had “suffered severe psychological harm” and he accused Johnson of having repeatedly lied.
In the statement, Johnson also apologised to friends and family and thanked any members of the public that supported him.
He was believed to have returned to his home in Castle Eden, County Durham, after being released from HMP Moorland, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire.