Blackpool striker Jake Daniels has come out publicly as gay, becoming the first player in English football to do so since Justin Fashanu.
The 17-year-old, who made his senior debut for the club earlier this month against Peterborough United in the Championship, joins a rare band of professional sportsmen within the men's game to identify as LGBTQ+.
Daniels follows in the footsteps of Adelaide United defensive midfielder Josh Cavallo and Thetford Town manager Matt Morton in coming out, and spoke of the outpouring of support from family and team-mates since he revealed his orientation.
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What has Daniels said about coming out?
"This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch," the teenager wrote in an open statement to Blackpool's website. "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.
"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.
"In reaching this point, I’ve had some of the best support and advice from my family, my club, my agent and Stonewall, who have all been incredibly pro-active in putting my interests and welfare first.
"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. 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. You being you, and being happy, is what matters most."
What else has been said about Daniels' decision?
Both Blackpool and the Professional Footballers' Association have issued statements in support of the player, with his club adding: "Blackpool has worked closely with Stonewall and the relevant footballing organisations to support Jake and is incredibly proud that he has reached a stage where he is empowered to express himself both on-and-off the pitch.
"It is vital that we all promote an environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves, and that football leads the way in removing any form of discrimination and prejudice."
The PFA added: "We are extremely proud of Jake and have been working with him and his club. He has the complete support of everyone at the PFA."