A 17-year-old is the first actively out professional soccer player in Britain since 1990.
Blackpool’s Jake Daniels is the first member of the Premier League in over 30 years to be out while actively playing soccer.
In an interview on Monday with British media outlet Sky News, Jake Daniels came out as gay. In the video, Daniels explained he felt it was time after “such a long time of lying” about his identity.
Daniels was signed as a forward onto the Blackpool team in February of 2022. In his 2020-2021 season, he was named Blackpool’s youth team player of the season.
In the seven-minute-long interview, Daniels explained how his thoughts on his identity have changed. He felt at the beginning of his soccer career it was necessary to conceal his sexuality.
“I’ve thought I would have to hide my truth because I wanted to be, and now I am, a professional footballer,” Daniels said, adding that it’s been a relief to come out.
“That period of overthinking everything and the stress it created has gone. It was impacting my mental health. Now I am just confident and happy to be myself finally.” said Daniels.
Daniels also said the quality of his play has improved since coming out.
“The day after I told my mum and sister, we played Accrington [in an under-18s fixture] and I scored four goals, so it just shows how much of a weight off the shoulders and what a massive relief it was,” he added.
Since the interview, Daniels has received an overwhelming amount of support, especially online. Other out athletes like Josh Cavallo, whom Daniels cited as one of the driving forces for his coming out, and former England soccer captain Casey Stoney, have praised Daniels’ decision.
Cavallo, who plays for the Australian team Adelaide United, said he had felt honored to have motivated Daniels to come out.
“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that my story has helped guide Jake to be his true self,” Cavallo told British news outlet The Guardian.
Casey Stoney, a former professional soccer player who played on three Super League teams also congratulated the player.
“Must of took a lot of guts & courage,” Stoney tweeted at Daniels. “Good for you for stepping out of the mould & for being authentically you! Wouldn’t it be great if we got to a place where we didn’t have to use the words ‘guts & courage’ to describe someone being comfortable being themselves.”
When asked how he feels after everything has been said and done, Daniels responded with candor and excitement.
“Now I can just live my life how I want to and you know what? It’s been incredible,” he said.
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