Words: Alastair James; pictures: Sky Sports News, Wiki, and BBC
Jake Daniels has said he was inspired to come out as gay, becoming the only active pro-footballer in Britain to do so, by the likes of Josh Cavallo and Tom Daley.
He said he had thought he'd have to remain in the closet until he had retired, but after coming out had had some "amazing support".
"I’ve been hiding the real me"
Commenting on a season in a statement on the Blackpool FC website Jake says it's been fantastic on the pitch after making his first-team debut, scoring 30 goals for the youth team, and signing his first professional contract.
"But off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I really am. I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself," Jake says.
Recognising his coming out is a "step into the unknown" in regard to the world of football in the UK, Jake reveals, "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."
The teenager says he's been supported by his family and friends, his club, agent, and Stonewall.
"I have also confided in my team-mates in the youth team here at Blackpool, and they too have embraced the news and supported my decision to open up and tell people," he adds.
He goes on to say: "I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in. 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," he continues.
Finally, he says, "You being you, and being happy, is what matters most."
Jake's coming out is a big moment for football in the UK and more broadly. The last British player to come out while they were still playing was the late Justin Fashanu who came out in 1990.
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