'Huge courage': Football world erupts over gay teen's brave act

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Footballer Jake Daniels (pictured) speaking to Sky Sports during an interview.
Jake Daniels (pictured) has shown his bravery to become the first openly gay active male professional footballer in the UK. (Images: Sky Sports)

The football world has united to praise 17-year-old Blackpool player Jake Daniels for becoming the first man in 32 years playing in the UK to come out as openly gay in a landmark day for the sport.

The 17-year-old Championship star told the world in a Sky Sports interview and said his teammates had been supportive of his decision, which will go down as a groundbreaking day in English football.

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Daniels is the only active player in England to have come out as gay and the first since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

The talented footballer said he had been thinking about telling his story for quite some time having been struggling with the decision affecting his mental health.

"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," he said.

"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."

Daniels said he was encouraged by Australian footballer Josh Cavallo who came out late lat year and was the only openly gay man currently playing in a top division in world football.

The 17-year-old Blackpool star said he wanted to be a role model for others in his situation.

"I've hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in," Daniels added.

"I want to be a role model myself by doing this. There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality.

"I just want to tell them that you don't have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in. You being you, and being happy, is what matters most."

Football rallies around Jake Daniels after watershed moment

The football world was quick to praise Daniels' courageous decision at such a young age.

Tottenham's Harry Kane and Eric Dier both lauded Daniels, while Manchester United keeper David De Gea followed suit.

Every Premier League team also sent messages of support for Daniels.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also sent his message of support.

Former Manchester United player Gary Neville and former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher appeared on Sky Sports to praise Daniels' courage.

"I was incredibly proud just to see a 17-year-old be able to actually do an interview of that level of quality," Neville said.

"I would not have been able to do that in my mid-twenties or late-twenties. What he has just done took incredible courage. We have been in dressing rooms for many, many years and that would seem like the unthinkable to announce that you are gay. I can't imagine how difficult that has been.

"It is a day of great importance for Jake and his family but also for English football. It will go down in history. It is a big, big moment for football players. It is of massive importance, this."

Late last year, Adelaide United player Cavallo came out as gay, and was at the time the only current male professional footballer in the world to do so.

The young Socceroos star announced the news on social media, which sparked an outpouring of support from all over the world.

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