The head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide has said he would have “no problem” recruiting a gay player, because he has been on teams with “folks like that” before.

Nick Saban, who has been the head coach at Alabama since 2007, told reporters: “As long as we respect them, and they should respect us, I would have no problem with it.”

He added that he had been on teams with gay players several times in the past.

Former University of Missouri player Michael Sam made history earlier this year when he came out as gay, and became the first openly gay NFL player when he was drafted to the St Louis Rams earlier this month.

Veteran NFL defensive back Troy Vincent said last month that he had played with six gay players throughout his career.

He said: “In my 15 years in the NFL, I played with six openly gay players in the locker room.

“It’s a workplace and it’s up to those individuals to disclose their sexual orientation.

“It’s nothing new for the players inside the locker room, but I think the player addressing that publicly is something we’re working on.”

NFL pundit Neil Reynolds told Pink News earlier this month that there were likely other gay players in the sport, adding: “I hope that other players realise Michael Sam is not being vilified at every turn, his life’s not being made a misery.

“It’s all just about what they can do on Sundays, and hopefully others [will] start coming out as well.

“Michael Sam did it right at the start of his career. You can make these announcements, you can be true to yourself, you can be a successful sportsman.”