Blackpool forward Jake Daniels has been widely praised after coming out as gay, with Gary Neville describing it ‘a big, big moment for football.’
The 17-year-old is the only active openly gay male professional player in Britain.
Daniels is the first professional player in Britain to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.
A host of players and clubs have shown their support for Jake Daniels after he came out as gay
Ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville said that he is ‘incredibly proud’ of Daniels and described it as ‘a big, big moment for football’.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said: ‘I am incredibly proud just to see a 17 year old give that interview with that level of quality. What he has just done takes incredible courage, that would seem like the unthinkable back then [15-20 years ago]. I can ‘t imagine how difficult that has been. It is a day of great importance for him and for English football. It is a big, big moment for football.
‘I was on the PFA management committee 15-20 years ago where this was a major issue where there wasn’t a player comfortable enough to come out.’
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville praised Daniels and said that it is ‘a big, big moment for football’
Neville stated that it is ‘absolutely wonderful’ for Daniels to speak about the subject given how difficult it can be for players in the dressing room.
He said: ‘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 a dressing room can be an evil place…you have the initiation ceremonies, peer pressure, things like that. Imagine how it would feel for a 16-year-old going into ego-driven place like that.
‘The way he spoke was absolutely incredible but to see him speak about this particular subject is absolutely wonderful. I was astonished at how mature he was.
‘What choice have we got? This should be normal, we want this in 10-15 years to not be seen as a huge announcement. The success of this in 10 years will be that it is seen as normal and that players do accept that it life, it is what we are.
‘I think he has said he would have announced it if he wasn’t a footballer, he was incredibly honest and these have developed over a long period of time.
‘It is a day of great importance for football and it takes unbelievable courage.’
Jamie Carragher praised the way in which the situation was handled.
He said: ‘I think it is important that they see how they have gone about it. That is what they will need going forward, and obviously as a player we hope he does really well. It is an example [the way the club have handled it] for going forward.’
Former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand stated that he has ‘massive respect’ for Daniels’ ‘brave decision’.
Ferdinand wrote on Twitter: ‘Massive respect for this brave decision. Let’s all help create a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ people in football and beyond!’.
Blackpool team-mate Kevin Stewart showed his support for Daniels.
17-year-old Daniels is the only active openly gay male professional player in Britain
Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out as gay after his retirement, wished Daniels ‘a wonderful career’.
He wrote: ‘Well done @Jake_Daniels11 Have a wonderful career! Great to see the support of @BlackpoolFC and @stonewalluk to make this possible!’.
Piers Morgan wrote: ‘Well done @Jake_Daniels11’.
Manchester United wrote: ‘We’re proud of you, Jake. You’re an inspiration to us and many others.’
Manchester City added: ‘Proud of you, Jake!’.
Chelsea wrote: ‘We’re proud of you, Jake! Football is for everyone.’
Tottenham Hotspur wrote: ‘Your courage and bravery is inspirational, Jake.’
Preston, Blackpool’s rivals, wrote: ‘Preston North End commend the courage shown by Jake Daniels, we hope his bravery is an inspiration for others to feel they are able to follow in his footsteps. Football is a game for all.’
The FA stated that Daniels is ‘an inspiration to us all’.
They wrote: ‘Jake, you are an inspiration to us all and we fully support your decision to be open about this part of yourself.
‘Football is a game for all, with diversity at its heart, and this is a hugely positive step as we strive to build an inclusive game that we can all be proud of.’
The Premier League stated that ‘We support Jake and believe that football is for everyone’.
MK Dons described Daniels as ‘so inspiring and so brave’.
Kelly Cates wrote: ‘What’s especially lovely is how good he feels about himself now’.
Commentator Jacqui Oatley wrote: ‘There’s so much love for @JackDaniels11’s decision to come out and it’s incredibly heartwarming. To think he’s just 17 and has played barely 10 minutes of first team football yet is keen to inspire and embolden others. No doubt he will. Go Jake.’
Bury AFC wrote: ‘So brave! The whole footballing world is with you Jake’.