“I have been thinking for a long time about how I want to do it, when I want to do it. I know now is the time,” Blackpool’s Jake Daniels told Sky Sports.

“I am ready to be myself, be free and be confident with it all.” Daniels is the first pro-footballer in the UK to come out in over 30 years, since Justin Fashanu.

Fashanu’s story is a sad one that unsurprisingly does nothing to encourage footballers to have the same kind of bravery after his career was cut short, and he took his own life over homophobic bullying.

Despite knowing he was gay at five or six, Daniels worried that he would have to keep his sexuality a secret until he retired.

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“However, I knew that would lead to a long time of lying and not being able to be myself or lead the life that I want to,” Jake Daniels said.

He continued: “Since I’ve come out to my family, my club and my teammates, 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.”

And Daniels firmly believes that his performance will improve by living authentically. “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.”

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Daniels outlined that coming out as gay/bi/queer was still seen as a ‘weakness’ in sports as so many sportsmen want to retain their masculinity; yet hopes that he can be an inspiration.

“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,” Daniels shared. “If they think this kid is brave enough do this, I will be able to do it too.”

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