Jake Daniels becomes first UK male footballer to come out since 1990

Blackpool forward Jake Daniels has become the first active male professional footballer in England to come out since Justin Fashanu 32 years ago
Jake Daniels becomes first UK male footballer to come out since 1990

Blackpool's Jake Daniels during the Sky Bet Championship match between Peterborough United and Blackpool at London Road Stadium on May 7, 2022 in Peterborough, England. (Photo by Lee Parker - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Blackpool forward Jake Daniels has become the first active male professional footballer in England to come out since Justin Fashanu 32 years ago.

Daniels has scored 30 goals for Blackpool’s under-19 team this season and made his Championship debut against Peterborough earlier this month.

In June 2018, Collin Martin, then of Minnesota United in MLS, became the world’s first openly gay, active male professional footballer.

In October 2021, Australian Josh Cavallo also came out as gay.

Former Aston Villa, West Ham, and Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger is the only openly gay player to have featured in the Premier League but he did not come out until after his playing career ended in 2014.

Daniels spoke to Sky Sports about why he feels now is the right time to come out.

“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.

“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.

“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.” He revealed that he first came out to his family and their reaction put him at ease.

“I first told my mum and my sister, who I live with. ‘Yeah, we already knew,’ was how they reacted.

“Then we told my whole family and at this point I was quite scared because I didn't know how the older generation might react.

“I needn't have worried. I've had so many messages saying, ‘we are proud and we are supportive.’ “The day after I told my mum and sister, we played Accrington and I scored four goals, so it just shows how much of a weight off the shoulders and what a massive relief it was.

Daniels is grateful to his club and his teammates for their support.

“Blackpool have been absolutely amazing too. My team-mates have all been so supportive about it and everyone has had my back.

“They've been asking tons of questions, they have all been intrigued and their reaction has been brilliant.

“Of course, everyone was kind of shocked in a way and they were asking why I didn't tell them earlier. That was a great reaction because it showed how much they cared.

“The captain was one of the main people I told and he also asked me loads of questions. In the end he just said, ‘I'm just so proud of you’. It meant so much.” 

Daniels hopes he can be a role model to people to not be afraid to be themselves.

“I am hoping that by coming out, I can be a role model, to help others come out if they want to. I am only 17 but I am clear that this is what I want to do and if, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant.

“If they think this kid is brave enough do this, I will be able to do it too.”

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