NATHAN AUSTIN believes that speaking out and educating others can play a crucial part in trying to tackle racism.

The Kelty Hearts star, 26, hopes that, by talking about his own experience of being on the end of sickening abuse, it can create a greater understanding of the devastating impact it can have.

Last week, the talented striker – who hit an incredible 48 goals in 34 games in a campaign where the New Central Park club were declared Lowland League winners – spoke to national media about horrific slurs he suffered as a schoolboy.

Aged just 14, Austin was playing for East Wemyss in 2008 when he was on the receiving end of abuse so shocking that it became front-page news across the country, and saw him threaten briefly to quit the game.

However, he refused to let the racists win and, so far, has gone on to enjoy a fine career, turning out for East Fife, Falkirk and Inverness Caledonian Thistle before switching to Kelty last summer.

Speaking to Press Sport, Austin says he wants to use his experiences to help others, and explained: “I’m a big enough person now to take it.

“That doesn’t make it OK but, at the time, it was hard. But, when you’ve got support and family round you, you can get through stuff.

“It was good to say my piece and I’ve had really good feedback from it. The support, as always, has been amazing.

“At the time, I received support and it’s no different this time. It wasn’t one of those ones where I was trying to feel sorry for myself; it was one of those where I was just trying to educate others and help people understand.

“I’ve been through that now so it doesn’t affect me anymore. I don’t mind talking about it; I can talk openly and honestly about it.

“Hopefully, younger people can read it and help them understand, and just give them a little bit of education about things.”

Austin continued: “As you get older, you open your eyes a little bit and realise it wasn’t always about me and my brother; it’s about the effects it had on my mum as well.

“I’ve just got admiration and the utmost respect for my mum with what she went through, and how much she helped me and my brother.

“When you think about it, a grown adult shouting at a child, it is disgusting. I couldn’t imagine if that was my daughter or my son, and I was a parent.

“It wasn’t always a case of name-calling, it was more in terms of they didn’t know. If something’s different, you’re going to ask questions, and that’s totally fine, but, at that point and at my age, I wasn’t really understanding why I was getting asked the questions because I didn’t really think I was that different.

“But if you can educate and help people understand, they won’t need to ask questions and they won’t need to judge you before they’ve even known you.

“Ignorance is a big part of the problem, 100 per cent.”

Keen to emphasise the huge amount of support he received, Austin added: “I’m a believer in never let the minority destroy the opinion of the majority because, at that time, it was the minority.

“Once the article came out, the support I got, thinking back to it, was overwhelming. It’s not easy revisiting the bad times, you’ve got to look at where you are now; I probably wouldn’t be who I am right now if that didn’t happen to me.

“When I look back on it, obviously it’s horrific, but I’m proud to have achieved what I’ve done and help others.

“If it took what I went through to help others, that’s something I’m happy to have gone through if I can help other people. If it helps one, then it’s worth it, for people to understand and educate themselves.”