A ex-Premier League footballer is standing trial accused of raping two women.

Nathan Ashton played for Fulham F.C. in the 2000s - and also featured in the England youth squad.

At Reading Crown Court today (May 14), he denied two charges of rape. The allegations date to 2015 and 2023.

One of the complainants claims that Ashton forced himself on her in the back of his car - while the other says she woke up in bed to find the defendant assaulting her.

Ahmed Hossain KC, prosecuting, called the first woman to testify.

Introducing the complainant to jurors, he said: "He [Ashton] raped her in the car.

"She had told people at the time of what had happened, but she didn't contact the police in 2015, as she blamed herself and she was afraid of not being believed."

The woman offered a detailed account of the alleged assault. She said that, on August 31, 2015, Ashton picked her up in his car in Reading.

By her account, the defendant pulled over in a layby and asked her to get in the backseat of his car, where he attacked her. She claims that, after the rape, Ashton told her: "You'll live."

Defence barrister Catherine Purnell quizzed the woman on her allegations.

The complainant waited five years before telling police she had been raped by Ashton - although Mr Hossain KC said she told a sexual health clinician of the assault a day after it allegedly happened.

When asked by Mrs Purnell why she ultimately went to the authorities, the complainant said: "Because I lived my life long enough keeping his [Ashton's] secret."

Mr Hossain KC told jurors: "The second complainant contacted the police in 2023, and reported being raped by the defendant earlier that day."

The trial continues.