When 17-year-old Jake Daniels became the first professional football player in England to come out as gay Turning 32 last week, the support he received from the footballing establishment showed there was a high level of acceptance. And the lack of negative reviews showed that times are changing.
daniels recognized in an Instagram post this weekend, feeling both overwhelmed and grateful for the support he has received.
I’ve taken time over the past few days to digest everything that’s happened and collect my thoughts.
I was overwhelmed by all the messages of love and support I received. It was incredibly touching.
Just want to say a big thank you to @blackpoolfc for everything over the last few months – you’ve been amazing.
To my family and friends for giving me the strength to keep moving forward in my life. I owe you so much.
To @skysports_tim for giving me the confidence to be me – your understanding and sensitivity throughout our time together has been immense.
To @billybingham03 and @astrapartnersfootball for their guidance throughout – you’ve been amazing to me and my family.
And a big thank you to @terrygeorge for his generosity and for taking care of me these past few days.
I wake up this morning proud of what I have done, but even prouder to be part of such a welcoming and supportive community.
Together we can end the stigma and move football forward
Daniels plays for Blackpool in the English Football League, one rung below the English Premier League. He did his first team debut and scored 30 goals for the youth team, signaling a bright future. I was hit by the public support shown to Daniels by Blackpool captain Chris Maxwell:
“Having coached Jake a few times last season and shared a dressing room and pitch with him, he’s a bright, honest young man with a lot of potential. He’s performed very well this season and he’s always ready to learn and to grow,” Maxwell said.
“Jake’s announcement on Monday publicly showed his character and how brave such a young man can be. It’s a testament to him as a person. He should be so proud of the bravery and courage he has. demonstrated, which will no doubt inspire and encourage others.
“As far as here at the Club is concerned, we want to make sure that Jake has an environment where he can thrive both on and off the pitch.”
Note that Maxwell said he “shares a locker room with him” as the alleged fear of sharing a shower with a gay player has always been a talking point for athletes going out.
Daniels’ week ended with Norwich City of the English Premier League honoring him by wearing a rainbow t-shirt with his face on it during warm-ups ahead of the season finale:
Few 17-year-olds playing football hear Harry Kane, Prince William, Tom Daley and a whole EPL squad. It will be fascinating to follow Daniels’ journey and see what a difference he will make in the sport.