Jake Daniels: Footballer praised for 'bravery' and 'courage' after coming out as gay

·4 min read

Jake Daniels's decision to come out as gay has been widely welcomed in the sporting world and further afield, as he is praised for his "courage" and "bravery" on a "landmark day".

The 17-year-old Blackpool forward is the only openly gay male professional footballer in Britain.

In an interview with Sky Sports News, he said he felt ready to "be myself" after "such a long time of lying" about who he is.

The young footballer also said he has received "amazing" support from his family, friends, and Blackpool FC.

England captain Harry Kane, of Tottenham, tweeted: "Massive credit to you @Jake_Daniels11 and the way your friends, family, club, and captain have supported you. Football should be welcoming for everyone."

Spain and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea wrote on Twitter: "Amazing courage and bravery Jake."

Chelsea Women forward Pernille Harder, who is in a relationship with club captain Magda Eriksson, wrote: "Jake, you are brave and brilliant. Coming out today will be freeing and liberating for you and for football fans around the world who will be inspired to open about their identity too. Huge respect. Wishing you all the very best!"

Eriksson herself wrote: "Coming out takes strength and bravery and doing so in the public arena isn't easy. The fact that Jake scored four goals after coming out to his family shows perfectly how liberating it is to be your true self. Congratulations @Jake_Daniels11. Feeling so happy for you today."

Liz Ward, the director of programmes at LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall, said of Daniels's announcement: "Football is ready for this moment, and we believe it has been for some time.

"Stonewall is proud to provide ongoing support to Jake, his close network and Blackpool FC to navigate the challenges of coming out in the public eye. This is an opportunity for everyone involved in football - from the players to the fans in the stands - to support Jake and show that football is everybody's game."

'Historic day in English football'

Former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out as gay shortly after his retirement, wished Daniels a wonderful career and said he was glad to see he had the support of his club and Stonewall to make the announcement possible.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "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."

Kick It Out's chief executive Tony Burnett said: "The bravery Jake has shown today will hopefully go some way to showing that men's football is becoming an environment in which LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and comfortable to be their authentic selves.

"We now have a renewed responsibility to him and the LGBTQ+ community at large to work with all clubs and stakeholders to ensure that he receives the right support now, and that the infrastructure is in place to ensure that he can continue on his footballing journey like any other 17-year-old.

"This is a big story, and a historic day in English football, but we need to remember that there is a young man at the heart of it."

Ex-Manchester United and England player Rio Ferdinand wrote: "Massive respect for this brave decision. Let's all help create a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ people in football and beyond!"

Great British Bake Off presenter Matt Lucas tweeted: "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."

Comedian and activist Eddie Izzard wrote: "I salute you, Jake."

Daniels is the first Briton in the men's professional game to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Him coming out follows Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo, who last year became the only openly gay professional top-flight men's footballer in the world.

Amal Fashanu, founder of The Justin Fashanu Foundation, also praised Daniels and hoped the announcement "marks a turning point and that other footballers, who wish to do so, feel they can talk more openly about the life they lead off the field".

A Premier League statement read: "We support Jake and believe football is for everyone. Clubs and communities are stronger when everyone feels welcome, on and off the pitch. It's up to all of us to make that happen, which is why we should all speak out against discrimination and in support of the LGBTQ+ community."

An FA statement read: "Jake, you are an inspiration to us all and we fully support your decision to be open about this part of yourself. Football is a game for all, with diversity at its heart, and this is a hugely positive step as we strive to build an inclusive game that we can all be proud of."