On Monday, 17-year-old Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels became the first footballer in a generation to come out as gay.
Sharing his story with Sky Sports News, 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.
"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 deciding to come out – and becoming the first UK-based current professional to do so since Justin Fashanu in 1990 – Daniels says the reaction from his club and teammates has been "absolutely amazing" and "so supportive".
The reaction from the rest of the world has been overwhelmingly positive too. "It is a day of great importance for obviously Jake and his family but also for English football," said former Manchester United footballer Gary Neville on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. "It will go down in history. It is a big, big moment for football players. It is of massive importance, this.
"In 2022, we see this as a huge announcement and we see it as a big day and a day of great importance, but in 10 years the success of this will be that it's seen as being normal," he added.
Meanwhile, speaking on BBC Breakfast, former England footballer Gary Lineker said: "He's going down a path that many, many others will follow - they've probably just been waiting to see how it pans out for whoever's first. And I think once they see that the overwhelming majority of people will be more than accepting, others will follow suit.
"I think he will be massively accepted. Not just in his own dressing room but players he plays against. I think, overall, dressing rooms wouldn't think about it. They will consider if you're a good footballer or not. That's all that matters."
This is how the rest of the football world, and beyond, reacted:
— Harry Kane (@HKane) May 16, 2022
I salute you, Jake - https://t.co/1GR3Txa2gc
Jake Daniels: Blackpool footballer, 17, comes out as gay, becoming only openly gay male professional footballer in Britain
— Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) May 16, 2022
Massive respect for this brave decision. Let's all help create a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ people in football and beyond! 👏🏽 https://t.co/KUpCaYPap7
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) May 16, 2022
At 17, @Jake_Daniels11 represents a generation that rejects old-fashioned homophobia in football and elsewhere: those who haven’t yet grown up as he has. He sets an example. No wonder so many of us, gay and everyone else, admire & treasure him as a hero. What a goal he's scored!
— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) May 17, 2022
It's a landmark day in British LGBT history. Brilliant, brave @Jake_Daniels11 - a professional Championship footballer with @BlackpoolFC - has come out. Huge respect to you, Jake, and to your club and teammates for supporting you. ⚽️🏳️🌈
— Matt Lucas (@RealMattLucas) May 16, 2022
We are proud that Jake has felt able to share his truth with the world. To come out publicly as the first openly gay player in men's professional football in the UK in the last 30 years takes courage. We’re honoured to be supporting him! 🏳️🌈⚽ https://t.co/4q1j9PSNxD
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) May 16, 2022
— Thomas Hitzlsperger (@ThomasHitz) May 16, 2022
It shouldn’t have to be brave but it is.
In this historic moment, your integrity and courage are an inspiration to us all 👏🏼 https://t.co/z5H6jvyx6v
— Kick It Out (@kickitout) May 16, 2022
This shows real courage and bravery and will serve as an inspiration to many young people across the country.
Thank you Jake. We are all with you. https://t.co/gCvQ1zbCAV
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) May 16, 2022
Thank you for your bravery Jake, it would have taken huge courage to come out and you will be an inspiration to many both on and off the pitch. https://t.co/tCmSUBnj5R
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) May 16, 2022
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