Child victims of paedophile football coach Barry Bennell would have been confused by what was happening to them and experienced a mix of emotions, a psychiatrist has told a High Court judge.
Dr Andrew Mogg said some boys would have hero-worshipped Bennell.
He added that the youngsters would have been sexually naive and would not have “really” known what was “going on”.
Dr Mogg was giving evidence at a High Court trial, being overseen by Mr Justice Johnson in London, on Tuesday.
The judge has heard that Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire, and is now serving a jail sentence after being convicted of child sex crimes, had abused young footballers he coached after inviting them to stay at his home.
Eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, have made damages claims against Manchester City FC.
The men say Bennell, now 67, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football in the North West of England more than 30 years ago.
They claim that he was a scout for Man City when he abused them.
Club bosses dispute that claim.
“Because these claimants were sexually naïve they didn’t really know what was going on,” Dr Mogg told Mr Justice Johnson.
“It would have been quite a mix of emotions.”
He added: “The whole nature of the abuse was very likely to have caused a great deal of confusion.
“Some of these boys hero-worshipped this man…
“They wanted to be in the team.
“At the same time he was abusing them.”
The judge has heard that the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985 and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.
Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.
Manchester City dispute the claims.
Bosses say Bennell had been a local scout in the mid-1970s but was not a scout between 1979 and 1985.
The judge has been told that Bennell, a former Crewe Alexandra coach, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions, four in the UK and one in the US, and is being held at HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.