Blackpool midfielder Jake Daniels has become the first professional footballer in English football to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.
The 17-year-old Championship player, who made his senior debut earlier this year, shared his emotional story with the world and Gary Neville said his decision will go down in history as an important day for English football.
“I was incredibly proud just to see a 17-year-old be able to actually do an interview of that level of quality,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“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.
“I was on the PFA management committee probably 15 to 20 years ago now whereby this was a major talking point, a major issue at management committee meeting that we did not have a player comfortable enough to come out and say they were gay.
“How do we deal with this? How do we address this? The game has not dealt with this issue well at all. I think it is just about getting good with dealing with this issue from a fans’ perspective.”
It goes without saying that Daniels’ decision to become the first professional player to come out in over three decades deserves huge admiration and respect.
“This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch,” Daniels said in a statement via Blackpool’s official website. “I’ve made my first-team debut, scored 30 goals for the youth team, signed my first professional contract and shared success with my team-mates, going on a great run in the FA Youth Cup and lifting the Lancashire FA Pro-Youth Cup.
“But off the pitch, I’ve been 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.
“It’s a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality, but I’ve been inspired by Josh Cavallo, Matt Morton and athletes from other sports, like Tom Daley, to have the courage and determination to drive change.
“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 pro-active 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. 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.”
David de Gea has joined the football world in praising Blackpool’s Daniels for his inspiring announcement.
So many women footballers are in same sex relationships and it’s a complete non-issue, and you would like to think men’s football can become inclusion.
To see someone aged 17 do this, you’d have to say the future is bright.
Good on him!