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Premier League star says he is gay in an open letter… but admits only his family and friends know

An unnamed Premier League footballer has revealed that he is gay in an open letter – but is keeping his sexuality secret from his team-mates.

In the open letter, which is aimed at authorities and fans, he opens up about the daily torment he is currently facing and says he is taking the ‘huge step’ of revealing his sexuality. 

However, the footballer added that his sport is not ready for a player to announce he is openly gay and has said he fears disclosing his identity.  

In the letter, which has been seen by The Sun, the player writes: ‘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.’  

An unnamed Premier League footballer has revealed that he is gay in an open letter

An unnamed Premier League footballer has revealed that he is gay in an open letter

‘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,’ he says.

‘I feel trapped and my fear is disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse.’ 

There are no openly gay or bisexual male professional footballers in the country at present. 

The sportsman is being supported by the Justin Fashanu Foundation, which is run by the former footballer’s niece Amal.

Fashanu, who played football for Notts County and West Ham, was the first professional footballer to come out as gay, but tragically hanged himself in a deserted garage after being wrongly accused of sexual assault in 1998. 

In the past two decades, only two players who have competed in English leagues have revealed their sexuality, and both once they had stopped playing.  

The footballer added that his sport is not ready for a player to announce he is openly gay

The footballer added that his sport is not ready for a player to announce he is openly gay

The men were Robbie Rogers, who played for Leeds United from 2006 to 2017, and Thomas Hitlzberger, who played for Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton between 2001 and 2013.   

The unidentified player goes on to say that he doesn’t think football ‘is ready for a player to come out’ and that ‘radical changes’ would need to be made for him to be comfortable to do so. 

He directly criticises the Professional Footballers Association, the players’ trade union, for their approach to managing the revelation once the individual decides to come out. 

He is also being supported by the Justin Fashanu Foundation run by the footballer’s niece

Pictured: Robbie Rogers

Pictured: Thomas Hitlzberger

In the past two decades, only two players who have competed in English leagues have revealed their sexuality, and both once they had stopped playing. The men were Robbie Rogers (left), who played for Leeds United from 2006 to 2017, and Thomas Hitlzberger (right), who played for Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton between 2001 and 2013

On their website, the PFA says they have been ‘working with both players to ensure we have a support network in place when and if another footballer comes out.’  

He believes that counselling and therapeutic support for gay footballers is only the start. 

‘And they [the PFA] have said they will offer counselling and support to anyone who needs it.

‘This is missing the point. If I need a counsellor I can go and book a session with one whenever I want. 

‘What those running the game need to do is educate fans, players, managers, agents, club owners — basically everyone involved in the game’

 He said that he doesn’t think that he would be supported ‘every step of the way’ if he was to reveal his true identity.   

He also expressed his sadness at approaching an age where he would like to be in a relationship, but being unable to due to the stigma he perceives.   

‘Because of the job I do the level of trust in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high,’ he writes. 

‘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.’

The news comes after Watford striker Troy Deeney claimed last month that there is probably one gay player in every football team.

The 31-year-old said: ‘I would go on record saying that there is probably one gay or bi person in every football team. They’re there, they are 100% there.

‘I think people that are gay or from that community definitely are very worried about having to shoulder the responsibility of being the first. I think once the first comes out, there would be loads.’

Read the player’s coming out letter in full 

As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a footballer.

I wasn’t interested in doing well at school.

Instead of doing homework, every spare minute I had was spent with a ball.

In the end it paid off.

But even now I still have to pinch myself when I run out and get to play each week in front of tens of thousands of people.

However there is something that sets me apart from most of the other players in the Premier League.

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.

I’ve known since I was about 19 that I was gay. 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 lucky enough to earn a very good wage. I have a nice car, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and can afford to buy anything I want for my family and friends.

But one thing I am missing is companionship.

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.

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. The Professional Footballers Association say they are ready to help a player to come out.

And they have said they will offer counselling and support to anyone who needs it.

This is missing the point. If I need a counsellor I can go and book a session with one whenever I want. 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.

There are countless times I’ve heard homophobic chants and comments from supporters directed at no one in particular.

Strangely it doesn’t really bother me during the matches. I am too focused on playing.

It’s when I get back on the plane or the coach and I have time to think that it gets to me.

As things stand my plan is to carry on playing for as long as I feel able to and then come out when I have retired.

It was great last month to see Thomas Beattie raise his hand and admit to being gay. But the fact he had to wait until retirement tells you all you need to know.

Footballers are still too scared to make the step while they are playing.For the past year I have been getting support from the Justin Fashanu Foundation, not least to cope with the toll this is all having on my mental health.

It is hard to put into words how much the Foundation has helped. It has made me feel supported and understood as well as giving me the confidence to be more open and honest with myself especially.

Without that support I really don’t know where I’d be now.

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.

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