GRAEME Souness has revealed he has become an atheist after witnessing the effects of a life-limiting skin condition on children.
The Scotland legend became a campaigner for people suffering with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) after learning about the condition at a charity dinner five years ago.
EB – also known as ‘butterfly skin’ – is a painful skin condition that is incurable and causes painful blisters and tears from any trauma or friction to the skin.
Souness, 70, is now vice-president of the charity DEBRA – which supports people living with the condition – and has helped raise more than £500,000.
The Liverpool and Rangers great has now told how meeting people with the “evil” disease had stopped him believing in God.
He said: “I wasn’t aware of the disease until five years ago and it’s the most evil and cruellest of all diseases.
“It just robs these young people of any quality of life. It’s life-limiting for these poor children and it’s not just the sufferers but also the families that have to deal with it which is traumatic to say the least.
“And it has changed me as a human being. I am now an atheist because I cannot believe there is an almighty that would allow this to happen to one person.”
It is estimated that more than 5,000 people are living with EB in the UK, and 500,000 worldwide.
Souness has become close to 14-year-old EB sufferer Isla Grist and her family who live on the Black Isle near Inverness.
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Speaking on the Up Front podcast with Simon Jordan, he added: “My little girl, she’s not my little girl but I’ve become very close to her, Isla, and it’s like someone has taken a torch to their skin.
“It’s continually raw in their mouths and there’s not a moment of the day when she’s not in pain.
“Do you remember when you have burned the end of your finger with a little bit of hot water and you think it’s the sorest thing that could possibly happen? Imagine your whole body being covered in that.
“It’s red raw and they lose their skin.
“These kids have to take the strongest of drugs to get through their lives like Ketamine, Diamorphine and it’s just the most painful, cruellest, worst thing you could experience as a human being.”
Souness has just left his role as a Sky Sports pundit after 15 years.
He joined the broadcaster in 2008 after a 22-year management career, but announced his departure on air after Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Tottenham last month.
He gained a reputation as a straight-talking pundit, who often clashed with fellow studio guests, and admitted he “owes a hundred apologies”.
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