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Aston Villa send Blackpool's Jake Daniels 'inspiration' message as teenage forward comes out as gay

Birmingham Mail logo Birmingham Mail 16/05/2022 Patrick Rowe

Aston Villa have voiced their support and admiration for Blackpool forward Jake Daniels, who today became the UK’s first active male professional footballer to come out as gay.

The 17-year-old is the first Briton in the men’s professional game to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990. Speaking to Sky Sports, Daniels said: “It’s been quite a crazy year. I’m 17. I’ve signed a professional contract. I’ve scored 30 goals this season and I’ve just made my first team debut in the Championship, coming off the bench against Peterborough.

“And now I have decided to come out. Everything has happened at once but it feels right. When this season started, I just wanted to prove myself as a player. I think I have.

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“So this was the one last thing in my head that I knew I needed to do. Now it’s out, and people know. Now I can just live my life how I want to and you know what? It’s been incredible.

"The subject of being gay, or bi or queer in men’s football is still a taboo. I think it comes down to how a lot of footballers want to be known for their masculinity. And people see being gay as being weak, something you can be picked on for on the football field.

“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.”

The footballing world has come together to applaud Daniels. Villa took to their official Twitter account to voice their support for the forward, which read: "You have the full support of everyone at Aston Villa, Jake. You’re an inspiration."

West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have also sent messages to Daniels, which are as follows:

Birmingham City: You are an inspiration to us all, Jake.

Wolves: Inspirational! Well done, Jake.

West Brom: You're a true inspiration to us and countless others, Jake!

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