Jake Daniels, the UK’s first male professional footballer to come out as gay since 1990, has been lauded for his bravery by Josh Cavallo, the Australian player whose own coming out provided inspiration for the Blackpool forward.
Daniels’s announcement on Monday that “the time is right to be myself, be free and be confident” in his identity prompted widespread support from across the football world, just like Cavallo’s decision to come out last year.
Daniels, 17, said he had been inspired by the Adelaide United player, who made global headlines in October when he became the only openly gay man playing top-flight professional football anywhere in the world.
At the time, Cavallo said he suspected there were other players “living in silence”, but until Daniels’s landmark revelation, no other gay men had felt comfortable enough to go public with their sexuality.
Cavallo, whose team meet Melbourne City this week in a two-leg A-League Men semi-final, said on Tuesday he was proud to have been able to help provide Daniels with the confidence to make the public revelation.
“As myself and Adelaide United prepare for the A-League semi-final, I want to stop and take a moment to acknowledge Jake’s announcement and say how very proud I am for his bravery,” Cavallo said. “It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that my story has helped guide Jake to be his true self.
“It’s touching to see the millions of people that my story has impacted and inspired around the world, and to see it help evolve the world game at all levels, is fantastic. This world and the game of football has a place for everyone. Love will always win.”
Gerard Piqué, Raphaël Varane and Marcus Rashford congratulated Cavallo last year, and there was no shortage of big names lining up to praise Daniels on Monday; Harry Kane, David de Gea, Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand were among those to offer support to the promising striker.
But football’s apparent inability to keep pace with wider societal advances on inclusivity was put into sharp relief for Cavallo in January, when he was targeted by homophobic abuse from the crowd during an A-League Men game at Melbourne Victory.
There have been only a handful of openly gay male players, and none besides Daniels and Cavallo have come out while actively playing top-flight football. Thomas Hitzlsperger of Germany is arguably the most high profile, although, like the American former Leeds player Robbie Rogers, he waited until after retirement to reveal his sexuality publicly.
In 2019, the former Newcastle Jets player Andy Brennan became Australia’s first professional male footballer to come out while still playing.