Gary Neville hails Jake Daniels as he becomes first UK footballer to come out as gay in 32 years

Football star Gary Neville has admired Jake Daniels’ courage after he became the first UK footballer to come out as gay in 32 years. Blackpool FC forward Daniels, who is 17-years-old, is the first in the men’s professional game to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990 and is now Britain’s only active openly gay professional player.

And continuing with messages of support, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville spoke out about the announcement on Sky Sports on Monday (May 16), admiring Daniels’ courage alongside Jamie Carragher. They are among other footballers and clubs publicly praising the 17-year-old following the announcement.

Neville said: “What he has just done takes incredible courage. We both lived in a dressing room and that would seem like the unthinkable to announce you are gay.

READ MOREBlackpool forward Jake Daniels becomes first professional footballer in UK to come out as gay in 32 years

“I can‘t imagine how difficult that has been. All I would say is it’s a day of great importance for Jake and his family, but also for English football. It will go down in history. It is a big, big moment for football.

“The game has not dealt with this issue well at all. We know that now it is something that is acceptable from a fan point of view, but it’s not yet got into the dressing room.

“A dressing room can be an evil place…you think about the initiation ceremonies you go through, the peer pressure and vulnerability you have. The way in which Jake spoke was absolutely incredible.”

Jake Daniels becomes first pro footballer to come out as gay in 32 years

As Carragher added: “I know the manager Neil Critchley, I had a relationship with him at Liverpool. Neil will be a huge support mechanism for Jake because he will need that going forward. It’s not just about Jake, it’s about the football club and their role within it and it’s an example going forward for other clubs.”

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted: “Massive respect for this brave decision. Let’s all help create a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ people in football and beyond!” as the Manchester United twitter penned: “We’re proud of you, Jake. You’re an inspiration to us and many others.”

Manchester City wrote: “Proud of you, Jake.” Daniels’ own club, Blackpool FC, also released a statement saying they were ‘incredibly proud’ on Monday afternoon.

They wrote: “Blackpool Football Club 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.”

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