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18th May 2022

Footballer Jake Daniels applauded for coming out as gay

Sarah McKenna Barry

“Football should be a game for everyone.”

Yesterday, Blackpool forward Jake Daniels made history as the first UK footballer to publicly come out as gay since Justin Fashanu came out in the 1990s.

Daniels is currently the only male professional UK football player who is openly gay.

In conversation with Sky Sports, the 17-year-old said that the time was right for him to tell his story and let the public get to know the “real” him.

He said: “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.

“Since I’ve come out to my family, my club and my team-mates, that period of overthinking everything and the stress it created has gone. It was impacting my mental heath. Now I am just confident and happy to be myself finally.”

Daniels went on to explain that he was met with support from his family, friends and his teammates at Blackpool.

He has since been praised for coming out.

English footballer Harry Kane tweeted his support, saying: “Massive credit to you @Jake_Daniels11 and the way your friends, family, club, and captain have supported you. Football should be welcoming for everyone.”

In a statement, the Football Association said: “Jake, you are an inspiration to us all and we fully support your decision to be open about this part of yourself. Football is a game for all, with diversity at its heart, and this is a hugely positive step as we strive to build an inclusive game that we can all be proud of.”

The Premier League said: “We support Jake and believe football is for everyone. Clubs and communities are stronger when everyone feels welcome, on and off the pitch. It’s up to all of us to make that happen, which is why we should all speak out against discrimination and in support of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Sports broadcaster Gary Lineker tweeted: “Well played, @JakeDaniels11. It’s been a brilliant season for you on the pitch, and now, through your bravery, off the pitch too. I’m sure you’ll receive huge love and support from the football community and many others will follow your path.”

Prince William applauded Jake, saying: “Football should be a game for everyone. What Jake has done takes courage and will hopefully help break down barriers that have no place in our society. I hope his decision to speak openly gives others the confidence to do the same.”