West Ham footballer, Matt Jarvis, has appeared on the cover of Attitude magazine, and gave an interview saying gay footballers should come out, that they would be supported, and that they might even play better if they did.

The 26-year-old Winger told Attitude magazine that he thought the football industry, despite appearances  was not homophobic, and that gay players should come out. He said:

“Yeah, of course. It’s everyday life. It’s not something that’s going to be a shock. I’m sure there are many footballers who are gay, but when they decide to actually come out and say it is a different story. It’s one that I’m sure they’ve thought about many times. But it’s a hard thing for them to do.”

Talking about the potential support available to any gay player wanting to come out, Mr Jarvis, who is married, said:

“There’d be support everywhere within the football community, whether it be players, fans or within the PFA. There would definitely be groups of people who would be supportive and help them through it.”

When asked about Clare Balding’s recent comments that coming out could benefit the performance of a gay sportsperson, he commented: “I’d agree with that. Because you’ve always got something you’re worried about at the back of your mind.

“If you can let that go and then just concentrate on your one goal, which is whichever sport you’re doing to the best of your ability, I think that would help. Definitely… I’m sure that would help with the team situation, yeah”

Mr Jarvis is only the third professional footballer to have been featured on the cover of Attitude magazine, after David Beckham in 2002, followed by Freddie Ljungberg in 2006.

Attitude Editor, Matthew Todd, said: “It’s ridiculous that there are no openly gay players in professional football. There’s rightly been a focus on ridding the beautiful game of racism but there doesn’t seem to be much effort to tackle homophobia.

“We know there are gay players – and fans who support the game religiously – so I hope this starts a discussion and is a small step in the right direction towards attitude’s changing.”

The issue of Attitude is available digitally today, and in print on 9 January.

Back in December, the Chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, said that no football player should fear coming out of the closet, following a decision by the governing body to tackle discrimination.

Britain’s only openly gay professional footballer Justin Fashanu killed himself in 1998 after struggles with homophobic bullying.

Anton Hysen, a Swedish player is currently the world’s only openly gay male professional footballer.