Out footballer who made history says there are ‘lots’ of gay footballers to come
The first out gay male footballer to play at Wembley Stadium has said he hopes his ground-breaking appearance will encourage more players to come out.
And he predicted that when the first high-profile footballer comes out, many will follow.
Liam Davis, 26, made history on Sunday when he walked out at the home of England’s national side to represent Cleethorpes Town in the FA Vase final.
An out gay footballer has never played in the Premier League, let alone at Wembley, which is generally reserved for cup finals and internationals.
Thomas Hitzlsperger played at Wembley during an England v Germany friendly in 2007, but the former Aston Villa player did not come out as gay until after he had retired, in 2014.
Davis, who came out when he was 18, helped his hometown club to reach the biggest day in their 20-year history.
Cleethorpes may have lost 4-0 to South Shields – who were captained by former Middlesbrough and Sunderland player Julio Arca – but nothing could take the shine off for Davis.
He said being the first out gay male player to step on the hallowed turf was “an honour”.
And, speaking to ITV, he added that “it’s nice to get a bit of exposure for the situation, rather than for myself – it’s not about me, it never has been about me.
“Hopefully it might give somebody higher up that incentive to be like, ‘Oh, well I could do that as well,’ if they have the courage to do what they need to do.”
But, he said, “it’s not for me to be telling people to come out.
“It’s down to them to make their decisions.”
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In terms of encouraging more players to come out and more LGBT players to get into the game, Davis said it was crucial for people to have role models.
“There’s got to be people to aspire to and look up to – trailblazers – and I do think we need somebody higher up to do that.”
Davis, whose club plays in the tenth tier of English football, has come out to teammates at every club he has been at, including Selby Town, Brigg Town and Gainsborough Trinity.
He has never experienced any issues, but he said this was a product of his location in the footballing pyramid.
“Obviously I’m still in non-league football; it’s a completely different game. The fans are more accepting; I think its a bit more of a relaxed kind of environment than when you go higher up,” Davis said.
“But hopefully we’ll get somebody who’s higher up who’s true to themselves, and then everybody can push on from there.
“I think there’ll be a lot of people who will come out after that.”