The ‘lovechild’ of ex-footy star Dalian Atkinson has told of her heartbreak after she tried to make contact with her dad only to be denied.
The ‘ace striker’ Atkinson, 48, of Telford in Shropshire, died in the early hours of Monday, August 15 after being stunned by a police Taser.
Once at the centre of a national media storm, his ‘daughter’ from Mansfield, Demi Wright, now 21, has lived in awe of the man she believes to be her father, despite never actually meeting him.
And when she was about to have her first child she tried to bring Dalian into her life.
She said: “I’m so sad me or my kids didn’t get to know him.
“I’m very heartbroken and I’d love to get to know his family. Although I never met him he’s always been on my mind.”
“There was once I did speak to him, and he did denied me,” she told, describing a conversation over social media more than five years ago.
“I was pregnant with my first daughter and he said you have to have children to be a grandad. It really upset me. He blocked me off Facebook and ever since then I had no contact with him whatsoever.”
Demi’s mum, Clipstone woman Lyn Kelshall was 29 when she had a short relationship with Dalian in the early 90s, and gave birth to little Demi soon after.
She claimed Dalian was the father of her baby, but after a DNA test – taken at a Turkish hospital and flown home – a paternity hearing in Mansfield upheld in 1996 that Dalian wasn’t Demi’s father.
Now, after years of rejection, she said Demi is ‘distraught’ that now she’ll never have the chance to get to know her ‘dad’.
She added: “It was hard for her at times, he always denied her but she knew – we all know it was him. She looks like him, she’s even got the same stammer as Dalian had.
Demi was 13 when she started asking questions about her ‘father’ and tried to get in touch with him on Facebook, said Lyn.
“She’s never had any contact with him and always tried to get in touch, but he always denied her,” she added.
And now, after all the history, the court battle and attention from the nation’s media, Lyn can put the past behind her.
“I’m not a hater, “ she said. “I can forgive him. It really made me cry this morning seeing it on the news. But why didn’t he ever get in touch with his daughter?
“I’ve always said he doesn’t know what he’s missing.
“She’s got two beautiful children and my little grandson looks so much like his granddad, and that still brings tears to my eyes.”
Lyn maintains that the court ruling in 1996 was ‘unsatisfactory’ and should have been taken in controlled circumstances, here in the UK.
She told the tabloids at the time: “I swear I made love to no one other than Dalian at the time Demi was conceived,” while Dalian always denied having unprotected sex.
“I am not satisfied. I want the tests done again with all the blood samples taken in this country.”
Atkinson was a top striker in his day, winning goal of the year in 1992-93 and scoring more than 20 premier league goals for Aston Villa.
He starting his career at Ipswich before moving to Sheffield Wednesday and Spanish team Real Sociedad before playing for Villa, and then went on to Turkish side Fenerbahce and Manchester City before finishing his career in South Korean in 2001.