Blackpool forward, Jake Daniels, on Monday came out as gay and became the first professional footballer in England in 32 years to do so.Daniels, 17, only put pen to paper on his first professional deal with the Championship side in February.
He becomes the first male professional player in English football to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.
‘Now is the right time to do it. I feel like I am ready to tell people my story. I want people to know the real me,’ Daniels said in an interview with Sky Sports News.
‘I have been thinking for a long time about how I want to do it, when I want to do it. I know now is the time. I am ready to be myself, be free and be confident with it all.
‘I can’t really put a date on it, but I was probably five or six years old when I knew I was gay. So it’s been a long time that I have been living with the lie.
‘At that age you don’t really think that football and being gay doesn’t mix. You just think, one day, when I’m older I’ll get a girlfriend and I will change and it will be fine.
‘But as you get older you realise you can’t just change. It doesn’t work like that.
‘I’ve did have girlfriends in the past, to try and make all my mates think I was straight, but it was just a massive cover-up. In school people even used to ask me: “Are you sure you aren’t gay?”. And I would reply, “no, I’m not”.
‘I wasn’t ready and it was a struggle but I just don’t want to lie any more.
‘For a long time I’ve thought I would have to hide my truth because I wanted to be, and now I am, a professional footballer. I asked myself if I should wait until I’ve retired to come out. No other player in the professional game here is out.
‘However, I knew that would lead to a long time of lying and not being able to be myself or lead the life that I want to.’