Gay footballer Anton Hysen, who plays for Swedish third division team Utsiktens BK, says he’s had a number of phone calls from anonymous footballers who want to come out.

“I’ve had quite a few anonymous phone calls from players who want to come out but I don’t know who they are or where they play,” said Hysen.

“I hope that someone else will come out just like Robbie Rogers did. That was great for US soccer. At last we’re having a discussion about it and that’s huge.

“It has been pretty quiet and I understand that. People might not want to come out publicly and I understand.

“There’s so much ignorance,” he told CNN in an interview, on the wider issue of homosexuality and football.

“There’s a lack of knowledge. Some people who are homophobic don’t even know a gay person. It’s all about preconceptions.

“I hear that football players are supposed to be masculine. I know plenty of straight guys who are more effeminate.

“There’s this illusion that every football player has to be macho and have a model girlfriend. It’s not acceptable to be a gay player.

“Why not? We can run, we can play, we can score. So what’s the problem?”

Hysen recently wore rainbow laces during a match as part of a new campaign against homophobia in football.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said, expressing his support for the initiative by gay rights charity Stonewall and bookmaker Paddy Power. “It’s not a big change but it is a step forward. It’s the least we can do. We can have lectures, we can ban people – and laces won’t change the mind of an idiot.

“A homophobe won’t change his mind because players are wearing rainbow laces, but we’re putting it into their minds and we’re putting the issue into society so we can talk about it.

“It might make people more aware and make them reconsider but it’s not going to make people come out instantly.

“We can talk about it and discuss it. It needs to be discussed. There are not many players out there (wearing them) but it’s a nice gesture.

“I’ve heard some idiotic excuses. I respect anyone who doesn’t want to (wear them) and has strong opinions on the matter but don’t give lame excuses. That’s silly.

“There are a lot of different things we can do – but this shows some players are ready to show their support. Seeing a professional wearing them is great and gives comfort to gay people who are playing and aren’t ready to come out.”

There are currently no known openly gay footballers in the English and Scottish professional leagues.

Former Leeds and US winger Robbie Rogers retired in February, announcing his sexuality and claiming he could not have continued his career due to the “pack mentality” that changes the way footballers behave.

He later reversed his decision to quit the game and signed for the LA Galaxy.

Before Rogers’ revelation, only two footballers had publicly said they were gay.

Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to come out, in 1990, before he took his own life eight years later, aged 37.

Swedish lower league player Anton Hysen – son of former Liverpool defender Glenn Hysen – also came out in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.