Blackpool striker Jake Daniels has become the first active Britain footballer to announce he has been openly gay for over 30 years and the teenager has received support from former England striker Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker has welcomed Blackpool striker Jake Daniels’ brave decision to come out as gay and says his decision will encourage others to follow his path.
Daniels, 17, is Britain’s first openly gay professional footballer in over 30 years after Justin Fashanu came out in 1990. The teenager publicly revealed his sexuality on Monday and said he was “relieved” to announce his coming out to the world, having already opened up to his family and teammates.
And Lineker praised the youngster’s courage in being a trailblazer for others to draw inspiration from, predicting he would be embraced by his professional peers after his announcement: “I think he’s going to be massively embraced,” Lineker said to BBC Sport. “Not just in his own dressing room, but players he plays against. I think overall dressing rooms wouldn’t think about it. They will check if you are a good soccer player or not. That’s all that counts.
Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels, 17, bravely comes out as gay in a historic statement
Football celebrates brave Jake Daniels after the Blackpool striker came out as gay
“I’m so happy because I think he’s going down a path that a lot of others will follow and I think the game will be better for that. Once they see that the overwhelming majority of people will accept it, others will follow.”
Alongside Lineker, openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen, who campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights, praised the teenager: “At 17 @Jake_Daniels11 represents a generation that rejects old-fashioned homophobia in football and elsewhere: those who didn’t and yet did grown up as he’s grown,” McKellen tweeted. “He is a role model. No wonder so many of us, gay and otherwise, admire and respect him as a hero. What a goal he scored!”
Daniels, who says he knew he was gay from an early age, consulted with his family, Blackpool, LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall and Sky Sports before deciding to go public. “Now is the right time for it. I feel ready to tell people my story,” he told Sky Sports. “Since I came out to my family, club and teammates, that time of reconsideration – and the stress that came with it – is over. It affected my mental health.
Blackpool teenager Jake Daniels bravely opened up to Sky Sports
“Now I’m just confident and happy to finally be myself. I’ve been thinking for a long time about how I want to do it, when I want to do it. I know now is the time. I’m ready to be myself .be free and trust in everything.”
Daniels, who recently made his Blackpool first-team debut, is the first player to play openly gay in English football since Fashanu. Other players such as ex-Aston Villa player Thomas Hitzlsperger, who tweeted his support for Daniels, and former Hull City youth player Thomas Beattie only revealed their sexuality after they retired or left the country.
Prior to Daniels’ announcement, Adelaide United’s Joshua Cavallo was the only known openly gay player to play for a top club. The Australian came out last year and in the process gained support from footballers and high-profile athletes around the world. However, Cavallo has been the target of homophobic abuse lately and Daniels accepts there could be an initial backlash in some areas of the sport.
“Obviously I’m aware there will be a response to that and some of it will be homophobic, maybe in a stadium and on social media,” Daniels added. “It’s easy for people to aim for. The way I look at it, I’m playing football and they’re yelling at me, but they’re paying to watch me play football and I’m living my life and making money from it. So yell what you want it won’t make a difference.”