This season has been special for Jake Daniels, a 17-year-old who trained at Championship side Blackpool, the second tier of British football. “I made my debut for the first team, scored 30 goals in the youth team, signed my first professional contract and shared the success with my teammates,” says the footballer.
But off the pitch, Daniels hid who he really was. “I have known all my life that I was gay and now I feel ready to come out and be myself,” the striker wrote in a statement posted on the Blackpool website, a historic moment also accompanied by by Sky Sports.
The moment is historic as Jake is the first British professional footballer to come out as gay in over 30 years, the first to do so after Justin Fashanu in 1990. The player thanked his ‘family, the club’, his agent and Stonewall, a organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community, for “support and advice”.
“I also confessed to my teammates at the Blackpool youth team and they were also supportive of me in the decision to go ahead,” Daniels revealed, hoping to be a “role to follow” for those who, like him, do not want to live. in a lie.
Jake Daniels’ post is accompanied by a statement from Blackpool, which says they are working with Stonewall and all English football bodies to support the player. “We are very proud that Jake has reached a level where he feels empowered to express himself on and off the pitch,” said Blackpool, stressing to the club that it is “vital” that all football agents foster “a environment in which people feel comfortable”. be themselves” and also recalling the need for football to eliminate “all forms of discrimination and prejudice”.
At Sky Sports, Jake Daniels confessed that for a long time he thought he had to hide the truth as a side effect of achieving the goal of becoming a professional footballer. “I wondered if I shouldn’t wait for my retirement. There’s no one else who’s come out yet,” he said, also explaining that his mother and sister were the first people he told he was gay to. The following day, in a match for Blackpool’s Under-18s, Daniels scored four goals: “It shows the weight I had on my shoulders and the relief it was to tell the truth”.
In Blackpool, he reinforced, everyone “has been fantastic”
“I am with my colleagues every day and I feel safe. They have been very supportive and everyone has been with me. They asked a lot of questions, they were intrigued, but the response was fantastic. It’s the best I could have asked for. »
Daniels also says he wants to break taboos, prove that the idea that “to be gay is to be weak” is nothing but a prejudice and believes he is prepared for the insults and criticism he may receive, in particular from fans: “I see it like this: I play football and they yell at me. But they pay to watch me play football and I live my life and make money from it. For that “they shout all they want, it won’t change anything. I can’t stop people from insulting me, I have to learn to deal with it in a way that the words don’t affect me.