Swedish footballer Anton Hysen has urged other players stuck in the closet to “give him a call”.
The Utsiktens BK player came out this month, making him the first Swedish footballer to declare he is gay.
After Justin Fashanu, who killed himself in 1998, Hysen is only the second high-level player in the world to come out.
Speaking to the Guardian, the 20-year-old said he didn’t feel pressure to be a role model but wanted to help other people be honest about their sexuality.
He said: “There’s nothing to be a role model for – you’re gay, it’s not a big thing. People tell me I’m a celebrity now, and I shouldn’t be.
“But as long as it helps [others by speaking openly], I’ll do everything I can. If there’s anyone afraid of coming out they should give me a call.”
Hysen, the son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, came out in an interview with Offside magazine.
He told the publication he was shocked that he was the first player to come out, saying: “It is completely strange, isn’t it? It’s all f**ked up. Where the hell are all the others? No one is coming out.”
The footballer told the Guardian he had enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive reaction to coming out, having received just one offensive letter from a fan.
He said: “Everyone has been very positive. I was on the train last weekend and this girl said: ‘You’ve made the world a better place, thank you for being there for everyone,’ and I haven’t done anything,”
“But when you think about it, you kinda have. Obviously I haven’t been playing in the top league but I’m still going for it, and I’m still the only active player who has come out, so of course it’s huge.”
He said his teammates took the news well and added that he was not offended by locker room jokes.
“Everyone is positive. Everyone. Who cares about a gay joke? I do it too. I joke about myself,” he said.