FOOTBALLER Nathan Austin has said he has been touched by the outpouring of support after revealing that he had been the victim of racist abuse.

The Kelty Hearts player, 27, used social media to highlight the slur he had been subjected to after playing a match at Albion Rovers last month, in which he scored all three goals in his team's victory.

An investigation into the incident was subsequently launched by the Coatbridge club, who stated it "abhors racism and discriminatory behaviour both on and off the field", which led them to ban a section of supporters, the 'Coatbridge Boys', pending the outcome of formal enquiries.

Austin, who last week was named as the cinch SPFL League Two Player of the Month for September, told the Times that speaking out was designed to show that racism is still an issue, but was grateful for the messages that he received.

"I Tweeted out after it and the amount of messages I received — the love and support — was amazing," he said.

"The tweet wasn’t about getting that back; it was just about making people aware. The response to that has been absolutely magnificent.

"I think it shows how far we have came and the love and appreciation I have had is really touching. It means a lot.

"A lot of people maybe think, well, he's scored a hat-trick, why’s he bothered about someone calling him a name? But it wasn't about that. It’s about highlighting the issues we have.

"I received abuse during the game. But, when it crosses a line and it's too far, and it was too far, that's what I wanted to highlight. We're all there to do our jobs at the end of the day. The fans are there to try and put us off and we're there to try and put on a show for the fans.

"You don't want to go to your job and receive racism. I just felt that, although it was a great day for me personally, with the hat-trick and the team, it's still is something that needed to be highlighted and I think I needed to say.

"Hopefully people see the tweet, or see the reports in the newspaper, and it helps a bit with the education aspect of it — because that’s so important.

Without going into detail, the person who abused me was a fairly young boy. That doesn't mean it's ok, but education at a younger age in terms of all different races is really needed.

"I think this really highlights what I said before about education with younger people on different races and sexes needs to happen, otherwise this is just going to keep going around in a circle."

Last year, Austin opened up to the Times on the sickening abuse he received as a youngster, some of which was so shocking at the age of just 14, while playing for East Wemyss in 2008, that it became front-page news across the country and saw him threaten briefly to quit the game.

The striker refused to let the racists win and has forged a successful career with East Fife, Falkirk, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and currently Kelty, for whom he has scored 10 times in as many games this season.

He spoke of his hope that, by talking about his own experiences, it could help others, and Austin maintains education, particularly amongst younger people, is key.

"It has come a long way. You could take a million steps forward, and all it takes is one person, like it did, and it feels like it's all collapsed and it all goes back to square one, when that's not the case," Austin continued.

"It's just more about highlighting that it is still an issue. It doesn't mean that the issue hasn't been progressed or it hasn't got better, but that doesn't mean that it's perfect or it cannot get better.

"Things like this just highlights it and keeps people aware, and makes sure what we stand for doesn't go away. Just because maybe an issue hasn't came out in the last few months, it doesn't mean it's not there.

"It keeps it relevant, keeps it fresh in people's mind, and keeps highlighting there is an issue that needs to be dealt with."