Blackpool's Jake Daniels Announces He's Gay: 'I'm Ready to Come out and Be Myself'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 16, 2022

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Official UEFA Women's  Champions League match balls lined up ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg One match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at City of Manchester Stadium on April 26, 2022 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)
Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

Blackpool FC forward Jake Daniels announced on Monday that he is gay. 

"Off the pitch I've been hiding the real me and who I really am," he said in a statement. "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."        

Daniels is now the first male English footballer to publicly come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990, per ESPN

Aston Villa's Thomas Hitzlsperger and Hull City's Thomas Beattie came out as gay after their playing careers. 

"I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in," Daniels wrote. "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."

Daniels received an outpouring of support from across the footballing world.

Arsenal @Arsenal

We're all with you, Jake ❤️<br><br>Thank you for showing the courage speak out today.<br><br>Football is for everyone 🏳️‍🌈

Premier League @premierleague

The footballing world is with you, Jake 🏳️‍🌈

Manchester United @ManUtd

We're proud of you, Jake. You're an inspiration to us and many others 👏

Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews

"It's a day of great importance for English football"<br><br>Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher discuss Blackpool's Jake Daniels coming out as gay - the first UK professional footballer to do so publicly since 1990 <a href="https://t.co/YzUrpfYP1M">pic.twitter.com/YzUrpfYP1M</a>

Molly Hudson @M0lly_Writes

One of the many lovely parts of this Jake Daniels coming out story is that Sky Sports News and his club, Blackpool, have been aware of it for several months and it hasn't leaked, and they've worked out the best way for him to share his story. There are good people out there.

Mike Minay @MikeMinay

Jake Daniels. You could not be braver and what you have done is massive for the game. Thank you. Well done.

Joey Barton @Joey7Barton

Huge respect to Jake Daniels.<br><br>👏👏👏<br><br>Takes enormous courage to be the first through the wall. <br><br>I’m sure it will act as an inspiration to a lot of youngsters. <br><br>Well done mate. 💪💪💪<br><br>🌈 <a href="https://twitter.com/stonewalluk?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@stonewalluk</a> 🌈

Daniels, 17, scored 30 goals for Blackpool's under-19 team this past season. He debuted for the senior side earlier in May in a Championship game against Peterborough.

Last year, Adelaide United's Josh Cavallo became the only male football player in a top-flight league to publicly identify as gay, playing in Australia's A-League Men.