A gay Premier League footballer has detailed the struggles of living a double-life revealing that neither his teammates nor manager know the true identity of his sexuality.
To date, only one footballer in Britain has ever come out as gay during their playing career. That was Justin Fashanu in 1990, however, Fashanu tragically passed away eight years later.
The Justin Fashanu Foundation was set up in his memory which is run by his niece Amal who published a letter from an anonymous top-flight player where he gives details of the “absolute nightmare” he faces as a gay man in football.
“There is something that sets me apart from most of the other players in the Premier League,” he wrote.
“I am gay. Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me. But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don’t feel ready to share it with my team or my manager.
“That’s hard. I spend most of my life with these guys and when we step out on the pitch we are a team.
“But still, something inside me makes it impossible for me to be open with them about how I feel. I dearly hope one day soon I will be able to.”
While Watford striker Troy Deeney said recently that there is probably one gay or bisexual player in every football team, the unknown player says he has known about his sexuality since the age of 19.
“How does it feel having to live like this? Day-to-day, it can be an absolute nightmare. And it is affecting my mental health more and more.
“I feel trapped and my fear is that disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse. So, although my heart often tells me I need to do it my head always says the same thing: ‘Why risk it all?’
“I am at an age where I would love to be in a relationship. But because of the job I do the level of trust in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high. So, at the moment, I avoid relationships at all.
“I dearly hope I will soon meet someone who I think I will be able to trust enough.”
“Something inside me makes it impossible for me to be open with them about how I feel.”
The player added that he doesn’t believe football is ready for an active player to come out yet and that the game would need to make radical changes in order to do so.
He also revealed that chances are he will find it impossible to live the lie for much longer and may retire early in order to come out.
“The truth is I just don’t think football is ready yet for a player to come out. The game would need to make radical changes in order for me to feel able to make that step.
“What those running the game need to do is educate fans, players, managers, agents, club owners – basically everyone involved in the game.
“If I was to make that step I’d want to know that I would be supported at each step of my journey. Right now, I don’t feel I would be.
“I wish I didn’t have to live my life in such a way. But the reality is there is still a huge amount of prejudice in football.
“I know it might get to the point where I find it impossible to keep living a lie. If I do my plan is to retire early and come out.
“I might be throwing away years of a lucrative career. But you can’t put a price on your peace of mind. And I don’t want to live like this forever.”