Blackpool's Jake Daniels has become the first active gay professional male footballer in the U.K. since 1990 after coming out publicly and making an announcement on Monday.
The 17-year-old recently signed a professional contract with the Championship (second tier of English soccer) team and made his club debut earlier this month.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Daniels said he hopes he can become a role model for others and hopes there will be a gay Premier League footballer in the future.
"Of course I am aware that there will be a reaction to this and some of it will be homophobic, maybe in a stadium and on social media, it's an easy thing for people to target. The way I see it is that I am playing football and they are shouting stuff at me, but they are paying to watch me play football and I am living my life and making money from it. So shout what you want, it's not going to make a difference. I won't stop people from saying that stuff, I just need to learn how to not let it affect me. I am hoping that by coming out, I can be a role model, to help others come out if they want to. I am only 17 but I am clear that this is what I want to do and if, by me coming out, other people look at me and feel maybe they can do it as well, that would be brilliant."
After Daniels' announcement, professional players representative organization FIFPRO tweeted out words of support, saying, "We are so proud of Jake Daniels for deciding to share his story. No one should ever have to hide who they are. Thanks to Jake's teammates and club who stand beside him and the LGBTQIA+ community."
One at a time, and remember what Dr. Seuss said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
Pier Angelo was born in Italy, moved to England at the age of 17 and learned English at the Nelson School of English. He attended college and graduate school in Manhattan. In 2009 he founded SFGN with Norm Kent. Now he’s retired with his husband Tom and his Affenpinscher Cabbage. He still enjoys writing his column Off The Wall for SFGN.