FORMER Colchester United midfielder Bobby Bowry insists racism must be stamped out of football – having experienced vile abuse “full barrel” during his professional career.

The 47-year-old, who played for the U’s between 2001 and 2005, was reacting to recent allegations made by Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.

The England international appeared to be verbally abused during his side’s Premier League defeat at Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, on Saturday night.

Sterling wrote on social media the following day that the behaviour was being fuelled by unfair coverage of young black players in newspapers.

Bowry told the Gazette: “I’ve had it full barrel, being a black ex-Crystal Palace player being captain at Millwall.

“I won the Player of the Year three times there and I get on well with the fans.

“But I played in games where the likes of Gifton Noel-Williams playing for the other team got racially abused and I’ve said to the person ‘what are you doing?’ and they’ve said ‘you’re one of us’.”

“I think it’s worse in some of the Eastern European countries.

“You can take it with a pinch of salt but you can’t condone it.

“It’s a minority these days but let’s get it right - we want it stamped out.

“But at the same token, it happens to white players too and some people forget that, so it’s a tough one.”

Bowry, who made 124 appearances for Colchester during his three and a half years with the club, now works as a football agent and says some of his players have told him they have experienced racism within the game.

“You can take it really personally,” said Bowry, who has thrown his weight behind the Kick it Out campaign.

“I’ve had players come and speak to me about racism and I always say to them it’s about conducting yourself in the right way.

“We’re in a young day and age in terms of social media and media coverage and it’s something really delicate, because it is a minority.”

Footage showed home supporters at Chelsea leaning forward screaming at Sterling during Manchester City’s 2-0 defeat, with one fan allegedly shouting racist abuse.

Writing on Instagram the following day, Sterling said: “Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game, as you can see by my reaction I just had to laugh because I don’t expect no better.”

Bowry felt Sterling dealt with the situation at Stamford Bridge well.

The former Premier League player added: “I think the incident has been polarised because of the magnitude of the game.

“It was shocking to see and there was some real force behind it.

“But I thought Raheem Sterling handled it really well.”