Ched Evans has released a video statement

Disgraced footballer Ched Evans has released a video statement after being released from prison.

The former Sheffield United footballer served 2.5 years of a five-year sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman at a hotel in Rhyl in May 2011.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror the 25-year-old said cheating on his girlfriend Natasha Massey, who has stuck by him, was "unforgiveable".

He and his family have continued to protect his innocence since the conviction, setting up a website that refers to his victim as "the complainant" throughout.

More than 150,000 people have signed a petition urging Sheffield United not to reinstate him as a player.

This one-minute, 45-second video statement, with Massey sitting by Evans, was released on Wednesday. You can read a transcript below.

"In May 2011 at a hotel in North Wales, by cheating on my partner Natasha I hurt the woman I love with all my heart.

Since that night I have constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that has been done on so many fronts because of it.

The support that has been shown by Natasha, our friends and family during the trial and the time spent in prison has kept me strong.

It can't have been an easy thing to have stood by someone who the court found guilty of such a destructive act. I will be forever grateful.

Even though I have been released from prison I am determined to continue the fight to clear my name.

And it is public knowledge that an application to refer my case back to the court of appeal has recently been submitted to the criminal case review commission by my lawyers.

The application seeks to demonstrate the acts I engaged in on that night were consensual in nature and not rape.

I made an incredibly foolish decision and failed those people who trusted and believed in me, most of all Tasha and our families.

It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to be permitted to play professional football.

Now that I have served the custodial part of my sentence of two and a half years it is my hope that I will be able to return to football.

If that is possible then I will do so with humility having learned a very painful lesson.

I would like a second chance but I know not everyone would agree.

I don't believe I have a given right to play again, but for any club to take me on I have learned a valuable lesson and know that, over time, I can prove myself to be a positive influence not just on the pitch but also in the community, thank you for listening to me.

More: [What happens when you start a petition against Ched Evans]3

More: [Michael Buerk criticises Ched Evans rape victim for being drunk]4

More: [Sheffield United fans heard chanting 'Super Ched Evans']5

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