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Blackpool's Jake Daniels becomes only professional men's footballer in UK to come out as gay

Jake Daniels, Blackpool
(Image credit: Alamy)

Blackpool forward Jake Daniels has become the only male professional footballer in Britain to be openly gay.

The 17-year-old said that he felt he had "been hiding the real me and who I really am", and wanted "to come out and be myself".

Daniels is the first active professional footballer to reveal he is gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990, though in a statement cited the likes of "Josh Cavallo, Matt Morton and athletes from other sports, like Tom Daley" for giving him the "courage" to come out himself.

Australian footballer Cavallo, who plays for Adelaide United, came out in October last year, while Matt Morton became player-manager of non-league side Thetford Town after coming out to his team-mates in 2019 (opens in new tab).

Daniels has bagged 30 goals for Blackpool's youth side this season, and made his senior Championship debut in the last-day defeat to Peterborough earlier this month.

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He says the decision to come out has even helped his game, telling Sky Sports (opens in new tab): "The day after I told my mum and sister, we played Accrington [in an under-18s fixture] and I scored four goals, so it just shows how much of a weight off the shoulders and what a massive relief it was."

In a statement released by Blackpool (opens in new tab), Daniels thanked his club, agent and LGBT charity Stonewall for their support in the lead-up to his announcement.

"In reaching this point, I’ve had some of the best support and advice from my family, my club, my agent and Stonewall, who have all been incredibly proactive in putting my interests and welfare first. I have also confided in my team-mates in the youth team here at Blackpool, and they too have embraced the news and supported my decision to open up and tell people.

"I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in. I want to be a role model myself by doing this."

Daniels has already received public messages of support from figures around football, including Thomas Hitzlsperger (opens in new tab), the former Aston Villa midfielder, who in 2014 became the most high-profile former footballer to reveal he is gay.

While openly gay players is rare in men's football, it is much more common in the women's game. Chelsea's Sam Kerr celebrated with her partner, Kristie Mewis of Gotham FC (opens in new tab), after winning the FA Cup this weekend.

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Conor Pope is the Online Editor of FourFourTwo, overseeing all digital content, and joined the team in February 2019. He supports Blackburn Rovers and holds a season ticket with south London non-league side Dulwich Hamlet. His main football passions include Tugay, the San Siro and only using a winter ball when it snows.