Jake Daniels becomes first professional footballer in the UK to come out as gay since 1990

Jake Daniels, signing for Blackpool
Jake Daniels, signing for Blackpool

Daniels bravely spoke about his experience about coming out in football

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Blackpool's Jake Daniels has become the first active male footballer in the UK to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

"I told my mum and my sister. The day after we played Accrington and I scored four, so it just shows how much of a weight off the shoulders it was and a massive relief", he told Sky Sports.

Jake Daniels holding a Blackpool scarf aloft.
Jake Daniels holding a Blackpool scarf aloft.

Daniels signed professional terms with the Seasiders in February this year and made his debut earlier this month against Peterborough United.

Daniels' deal with the north west club runs until 2024 and the attacking talent will be hopeful of more opportunities next season.

Asked whether he feared coming out would be to the detriment of his football career, Daniels 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."

Jake Daniels of Blackpool FC
Jake Daniels of Blackpool FC

The forward, who bagged 30 goals for the u-19s this season, went on: "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."

Liz Ward, director of programmes at Stonewall, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity who have pioneered the Rainbow Laces campaign, said: “We are proud that Jake has felt able to share his truth with the world.

“To come out publicly as the UK’s first openly gay professional footballer in nearly 30 years takes incredible courage, and we’re heartened by the solidarity and support he has received from Blackpool FC and his team-mates.

Justin Fashanu, who came out as gay in 1990.
Justin Fashanu, who came out as gay in 1990.

“Football is ready for this moment and we believe it has been for some time. Our Rainbow Laces campaign has taught us that, while there is still a way to go, attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in sport are changing.

“We are moving towards a world where players can live openly as their true selves, both on and off pitch – and that is something we can all take pride in.

“Stonewall is proud to provide ongoing support to Jake, his close network and Blackpool FC to navigate the challenges of coming out in the public eye.

“This is an opportunity for everyone involved in football – from the players to the fans in the stands – to support Jake and show that football is everybody’s game.”

Football v Homophobia added: “Football v Homophobia would like to congratulate Jake on taking this step to share his authentic self in the men’s professional game, especially at such a young age.

“There have previously been players who felt that they had no place in the game as out gay men during their playing careers, but Jake is showing the world that you can be yourself.

“We hope that football will join us in celebrating Jake’s news and take proactive steps to ensure that he receives the support he deserves, from players, fans, clubs and the football authorities.”