FORMER Accrington Stanley striker Dion Charles has been forced to apologise for a series of allegedly racist and homophobic tweets made as a teenager, which have recently surfaced online.

The Northern Ireland international, who signed for Bolton Wanderers for £320,000 last week, apologised on his official Twitter account for several messages, from 2011 to 2013, when the player was aged between 15 and 18.

The Football Association is also now investigating the messages, which could mean disciplinary action for the player.

His statement read: “First of all, I want to say how sorry I am for the hurt I have caused to those who have read my tweets.

“I particularly want to apologise to the LGBTQ+ and Muslim communities for the offensive words I used.

“There is no place in football or society as a whole for discriminatory and hateful views and I want to make it clear I have grown up considerably since I posted those tweets many years ago. I am not racist and I am not homophobic.

“I know Bolton Wanderers Football Club works hard to promote inclusion and kick out hatred and I completely support this.

“I will do everything while I am representing this club to help make football a game for everyone. Once again, I wish to reiterate how sorry I am for the offence and embarrassment my actions may have caused.”

Club chairman Sharon Brittain added last night: “I am aware some tweets which Dion Charles posted several years ago contained discriminatory and deeply offensive words.

“Myself and Bolton Wanderers FC do not condone any forms of discrimination whatsoever and, quite simply, there is no place for it in football or society in general.

“What was said in those posts was completely unacceptable and I am pleased Dion has taken full responsibility for his actions and unreservedly apologised for the hurt and embarrassment caused.

“While not making any excuses for him, I have spoken with Dion and he has acknowledged he has grown up considerably since he posted those comments and he is not racist or homophobic."

“Through Bolton Wanderers in the Community, the club seeks to be at the forefront of making our game inclusive for everybody and Dion fully supports this.

“My own faith is incredibly important to me and, among many other things, it has also taught me to offer forgiveness.

“I know Dion will learn a very valuable lesson from this and the football club will offer any support he needs going forward.”

Wanderers manager Ian Evatt said: “I was very disappointed to hear about the tweets Dion posted several years ago and I am pleased he offered an immediate apology for the offence caused.

“I know Dion wants to do his best while representing Bolton Wanderers and that means off the field as well as on it.

“He fully understands the magnitude of his actions and will do everything he can to support the club in making football a game that welcomes everybody.”