Stephen Dawson: the police told me I could go to prison for match-fixing

The case against the Rochdale midfielder has been dropped but he says his career has suffered and he is determined to discover who dragged him into the scandal that nearly broke him

Stephen Dawson’s nightmare began with an early?morning police raid. He had gone to bed a happy man, his professional and personal lives better than ever. He was the 28-year-old captain of Barnsley and the father of two young daughters with his girlfriend, Stacey. But he was about to be wrenched from that cosy existence and catapulted into a bewildering drama in which he was miscast as a conspirator in what threatened to be one of the biggest scandals in English football history. “It nearly broke me,” Dawson says, three days after the National Crime Agency ended his nine-month ordeal by confirming that the case against him has been dropped. Now he is the one seeking answers.

“I’ll never forget 2 April 2014,” Dawson says. “They came at 6.30am. Ten officers. They searched our house from top to bottom and seized some of our belongings – my mobile phones, my laptop, my girlfriend’s phone, documents. Then they said I had to go down to the station. We didn’t know what was going on.”

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