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Blackpool’s Jake Daniels, 17, is first active male pro footballer in England to come out as gay

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Blackpool’s Jake Daniels, 17, is first active male pro footballer in England to come out as gay

Blackpool FC’s Jake Daniels has come out as gay in a televised interview today, becoming Britain’s only active openly gay professional player.

It was claimed yesterday that the 17-year-old wanted to come out in a bid to tackle the scourge of homophobia in the sport.

The player was reportedly ‘very relaxed’ about his sexuality and has the full backing of his team-mates and Championship club. 

He was said to be ‘keen to break the stigma’ and has become the only openly gay male pro in the country, and the second in the world in a trailblazing moment for the men’s game.

Speaking in an interview with Sky News, the teenage forward said: ‘I just processed and processed every day about how I want to do it, when I want to do it and I feel like now is just the right time – you know I feel like I’m ready to tell people about my story.

‘I want people to know the real me and lying all the time just isn’t what I wanted to do.

‘It has been a struggle but now I do feel I am ready to be myself and be free and just be confident with it all.’

The 17-year-old forward is the first Briton in the men’s professional game to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

He told Sky Sports: ‘It’s been quite a crazy year. I’m 17. I’ve signed a professional contract. I’ve scored 30 goals this season and I’ve just made my first team debut in the Championship, coming off the bench against Peterborough.

‘And now I have decided to come out. Everything has happened at once but it feels right. When this season started, I just wanted to prove myself as a player. I think I have.

‘So this was the one last thing in my head that I knew I needed to do. Now it’s out, and people know. Now I can just live my life how I want to and you know what? It’s been incredible.’

Pictured: Blackpool FC’s Jake Daniels has come out as gay in a televised interview today

Speaking to Sky Sports, Daniels said he felt the time was right and he was ready to come out

Speaking to Sky Sports, Daniels said he felt the time was right and he was ready to come out

The only openly gay man to have played in English soccer's professional leagues was Justin Fashanu, who was not active at a high level when he made the announcement in 1990. The former Nottingham Forest and Norwich City striker was found dead in a London garage at 37

The only openly gay man to have played in English soccer’s professional leagues was Justin Fashanu, who was not active at a high level when he made the announcement in 1990. The former Nottingham Forest and Norwich City striker was found dead in a London garage at 37

Josh Cavallo, 22, who plays for Australian team Adelaide United, came out as gay last year to then become the only out pro in the world.

Other players have come out after their careers were over, including former Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger, 40, and ex-Hull City youth’s Thomas Beattie, 35.

Daniels, who has been with Blackpool FC since the age of seven, said he first realised he was gay at the age of five or six but thought it would be something that would change as he got older because football and being gay ‘didn’t really mix’.

He told Sky Sports: ‘I’ve had girlfriends in the past to try and make all my mates think that I’m straight and it was just a massive cover up so it has been a struggle.

‘And then in school, everyone always used to ask me “are you sure you’re not gay” and it was like “no I’m not” because I wasn’t ready but I just don’t want to lie anymore.’ 

After scoring 30 girls for U18 side and being named the club’s top youth player of last season, Daniels made his senior debut with the club this month in the team’s 5-0 loss to Peterborough.

The 17-year-old came on as an 81st minute substitute and is now the first openly gay active professional football player in England.

Asked if he thought it was something he had to hide, he said: ‘Yeh I think so obviously because there’s no one out that I do need to hide it and wait until I’ve retired to maybe come out but I just knew that that was such a long time of just lying and not be able to have what I want.’ 

Amal Fashanu, who runs the Justin Fashanu Foundation to fight homophobia and racism in football, revealed in 2020 that her foundation was providing counselling to five secretly gay football stars, including two from the Premier League. 

She created the foundation in 2019 partly in an attempt to help more players come out.

Daniels, pictured during his interview, said he realised he was gay when he was just five or six

Daniels, pictured during his interview, said he realised he was gay when he was just five or six

She previously said: ‘No one wants to be the first. In their minds these guys are trapped, ashamed. 

‘They think society won’t accept it so instead they live their lives in secret. 

‘It’s sad that this has to happen. But they would be a trailblazer [if they came out].’ 

Cavallo became the first known current top-flight male football player in the world to come out as gay in October 2021.

In an emotional and widely-praised video, he said was done with feeling ashamed about his sexuality and the exhaustion of trying to live a ‘double-life’. 

Josh Cavallo, 22, who plays for Australian team Adelaide United, came out as gay last year to then become the only out pro in the world

Josh Cavallo, 22, who plays for Australian team Adelaide United, came out as gay last year to then become the only out pro in the world 

‘I’m a footballer and I’m gay,’ the 21-year-old said in the clip posted on Adelaide’s social media and in a statement posted to his Instagram page, drawing support from fellow professionals across the world.

‘All I want to do is play football and be treated equally,’ he said.

Taking to Twitter, former England striker and BBC Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker led an outpouring of public support for the player, saying he is hopeful Cavallo’s actions will ‘erase the fear others may have’ of coming out as gay.

‘It’s absurd that coming out is a brave thing to do in football,’ the former Tottenham and Barcelona star tweeted. ‘It is though, and I’m full of admiration for Josh for treading a path hopefully many others will follow.

‘I’m sure the overwhelming majority of football lovers will support him and erase the fear others may have.’ 

Cavallo said in his video: ‘There is something personal that I need to share with everyone. I am a footballer and I am gay.

‘Growing up I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed – ashamed I would never be able to do what I love and be gay.

‘Coming out to my loved ones, my peers, friends, team-mates, and coaches has been incredible. The support I have received has been immense.

‘I want to show people it is ok to be yourself and play football. If anything, you will earn more respect from people [by coming out]. 

The player said his situation was ‘an absolute nightmare’, adding: ‘I feel trapped and my fear is that disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse.’

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