Jake Daniels, first active English professional footballer to admit his homosexuality

Jake Daniels, a 17-year-old midfielder who plays for Blackpool in the English second division, became the first active professional footballer to publicly come out as gay on Monday, in a statement.

“This season has been fantastic for me on the pitch. I played my first game as a professional, I have scored 30 goals with the reserve team, I have signed my first professional contract”, explains the player on the club’s website.

“But off the pitch I have hidden who I really am. All my life I’ve known I was gay and I feel like right now I’m ready to come out and be myself,” he continued.

In the 1990s, Justin Fashanu was the first English professional player to openly declare himself homosexual, but he was already playing in an amateur category when he revealed his condition in an explosive interview with the tabloid The Sun.

Victim of insults and homophobic behavior after coming out as gay, the former Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker committed suicide eight years later.

“Being gay, bisexual or sexually different is still a taboo in men’s football,” said the young Daniels in an interview with Sky Sport.

“I think it’s because a lot of players want to be recognized for their manhood. And people see being gay as a weakness, something to be teased with on the court,” he continued.

“But the way I see things, I play football and (spectators) can yell things at me, but they pay to see me play and I make a living like that. So yell what you want, nothing will change, “the footballer insisted.

Daniels’ announcement has been met with a wave of sympathy from across English football.

“You are a source of inspiration for all of us, Jake,” Leicester wrote for example on their Twitter account.

“Football is a sport for all, with diversity at its core, and this is a huge step in the right direction as we all try to create a truly inclusive sport that we will all be proud of,” the English Federation tweeted.

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