Blackpool FC forward Jake Daniels came out as gay in a message posted onto the club’s website on Monday.
Daniels, 17, made his debut in England’s Championship – the second tier to the English Premier League – earlier this month. He had starred for the youth team, scoring 30 goals before getting the call up to the first team. He said in his message he was “hiding the real me and who I really am.”
“I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself,” the message read.
He thanked those who supported him in his decision to come out as gay. He wrote his Blackpool teammates supported his decision to make his sexuality public.
“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,” he added.
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“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.”
According to Sky Sports, Daniels is the only active gay male soccer player in Britain.
“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,” he told Sky Sports. “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 teammates, that period of overthinking everything and the stress it created has gone. It was impacting my mental health. Now I am just confident and happy to be myself finally.”
Justin Fashanu was the country’s first openly gay male soccer player.
Daniels said he knew he was gay at age 5 or 6.