Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels praised as 'inspirational' after coming out as gay

Blackpool forward Daniels made the announcement on Monday, saying he had been hiding who he really is and that he now feels 'ready to come out and be myself.' Credit: Blackpool Football Club

Jake Daniels has been praised as "inspirational" after he decided to come out as the UK's first openly gay active male professional footballer.

The 17-year-old player's announcement was applauded by Boris Johnson, England captain Harry Kane and former England striker Gary Lineker, amongst others.

Blackpool forward Daniels made the announcement on Sky News on Monday, saying he had been hiding who he really is and that he now feels "ready to come out and be myself."

Tottenham striker Kane paid tribute to Daniels on Twitter, tweeting that he deserved a "massive credit."

Kane added "football should be welcoming for everyone."

Jake Daniels, who has come out as gay, said he felt "ready to come out and be myself". Credit: Sky Sports News/PA

Boris Johnson thanked Daniels for his "bravery" and "courage."

"It would have taken huge courage to come out and you will be an inspiration to many both on and off the pitch," the Prime Minister said.

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville also highlighted Daniels’ “incredible courage”, saying on Sky Sports: “I can’t imagine how difficult that has been.

“All I would say is it’s 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.”

Little Britain star Matt Lucas said it was a "landmark day in British LGBT history," labelling Daniels "brilliant" and "brave."

Match of the Day presenter and ex-England striker Gary Lineker tweeted: “Well played, @Jake_Daniels11. It’s been a brilliant season for you on the pitch, and now through your bravery, off the pitch too. I’m sure you’ll receive huge love and support from the football community and many others will follow your path. Good luck to you.”

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

Fashanu's niece Amal Fashanu, founder of The Justin Fashanu Foundation, hailed Daniels’ “immense bravery” and hopes his announcement will prove a turning point for players.

She said: “If my Uncle Justin were alive I know he would have been one of the first people to have contacted Jake to offer his support and best wishes. Justin’s wish was to create a society where people could simply be kinder to one another and where bigotry doesn’t exist.

“Jake’s announcement will come as a huge comfort to the many footballers at all levels of the game – from grass roots to the professional leagues – still secretly living as gay and who still feel unable to come out.

“The sad reality is there is still a lot of homophobia in the game, at all levels. Until the authorities take firm and more decisive action I am concerned many players will continue to live in secret, wrongly believing they have something to be ashamed of," she said, though she added she hoped Daniels announcement would be a "turning point."

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Tony Burnett, the chief executive of the game’s anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out, said it was now vital Daniels was given the correct support.

“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,” Burnett said.

“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 an historic day in English football, but we need to remember that there is a young man at the heart of it. A young man who should not have to be defined by this one moment, or this one part of his identity.

“We wish Jake a long and successful career in football. He has our full and unwavering support.”