Ian Bishop, a former footballer who played for Everton and Manchester City, says gossip about his sexuality may have undermined his chances of being selected to play for his country at the top level.

In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, Bishop, 47, said the false rumours about him being in a relationship with former Manchester City and West Ham star Trevor Morley “hurt” because “it affected my life”.

Bishop, who now lives in America, suffered homophobic taunts at away grounds and claims that the issue could have prevented him from representing his country.

“Nothing against gay people. People are free to be what they want and there’s no issue. It didn’t hurt me to be called it – it hurt me because it affected my life,” Bishop said.

“In a way, it could have affected my international prospects at the time. I just thought if that’s the way they think, then I’m not bothered anymore”.

Bishop, who was only ever selected for England’s B team, added: “If they weren’t giving me a chance to prove myself, then sod them. That’s really how I felt at the time.

“To go to every away ground and really get abused, I mean badly abused, and have to do your job and do it well – there was enough pressure on me to keep my place and that added to it”.

In September, chair of the Management Committee of the Professional Footballers’ Association Clarke Carlisle said UK gay players were “frightened” to go public about their sexuality due to the pressure of the media and from fans.

Europe’s only out gay professional player Anton Hysen has previously urged for the governing bodies and clubs to show greater support to gay players.