Chelsea react to Blackpool player coming out as first openly gay footballer in UK

Blackpool’s Jake Daniels has officially come out as gay, making him the only openly homosexual male professional footballer in the United Kingdom.

Daniels has become the first professional British football player to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

“Now is the right time to do it,” the 17-year-old said, as quoted by Blackpool’s official website. “I feel like I am ready to tell people my story.

“I am ready to be myself, be free and be confident with it all. I can’t really put a date on it, but I was probably five or six years old when I knew I was gay. So it’s been a long time that I have been living with the lie.

“At that age you don’t really think that football and being gay doesn’t mix. You just think, one day, when I’m older I’ll get a girlfriend and I will change and it will be fine. But as you get older you realise you can’t just change. I did have girlfriends to try and make all my mates think I was straight, but it was just a cover-up.

“I wasn’t ready and it was a struggle but I just don’t want to lie any more. 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 I’ve come out to my family, my club and my team-mates, that period of overthinking everything and the stress it created has gone. Now I am just confident and happy to be myself finally.

“It’s been quite a crazy year. I’m 17. I’ve signed a professional contract. I’ve scored 30 goals this season and I’ve just made my first team debut in the Championship, coming off the bench against Peterborough. And now I have decided to come out. Everything has happened at once but it feels right.

“The subject of being gay, or bi or queer in men’s football is still a taboo. I think it comes down to how a lot of footballers want to be known for their masculinity. And people see being gay as being weak, something you can be picked on for on the football field. Of course I am aware that there will be a reaction to this.

“Some of it will be homophobic, maybe in a stadium and on social media. It’s an easy thing for people to target. The way I see it is that I am playing football and they are shouting stuff at me, but they are paying to watch me play football and I am living my life and making money from it. So shout what you want.

“I am hoping that by coming out, I can be a role model, to help others come out if they want to. I am only 17 but I am clear that this is what I want to do and if, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant. I hate knowing people are in the same situation I was in.

“I think if a Premier League footballer does come out that would just be amazing. I feel like I would have done my job and inspired someone else to do that. We shouldn’t be where we are right now. And if you think you are ready, then speak to people, you are going to get support you need.”

Chelsea have reacted to Daniels’ coming out.

“We’re proud of you, Jake! Football is for everyone,” the club posted on social media, adding a rainbow flag.

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