Gary Lineker predicts gay footballer Jake Daniels will inspire other players to come out
Gary Lineker has predicted that even more gay footballers will be “massively accepted” after Jake Daniels bravely became the first male professional player in the UK to come out in more than 30 years.
Daniels, 17, who plays forward for Blackpool, is the first professional player in British men’s football to come out as gay publicly since Justin Fashanu in 1990, who died by suicide after being subjected to relentless homophobia and racism.
Sports broadcaster and former footballer Lineker said he believes Daniels’ decision to come out will lead to more LGBTQ+ players opening up, stating “the game will be better for it”.
“I think he will be massively accepted,” Lineker told BBC Sport.
“Not just in his own dressing room but players he plays against. I think, overall, dressing rooms wouldn’t think about it. They will consider if you’re a good footballer or not. That’s all that matters.
“I’m so pleased as I think he is going down a path many others will follow and I think the game will be better for it. Once they see that the overwhelming majority of people will be accepting, others will follow suit.”
He added that football should have “passed this watershed moment a long time ago”.
Daniels has received a broad wave of support since coming out on Sky Sports, despite his own fears that he should “wait until I’ve retired to come out”.
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Australian footballer Cavallo, who made headlines after he came out publicly as gay in October 2021, said he was “proud” of Daniels’ “bravery” after he came out on Monday (16 May).
Speaking to The Guardian after Daniels’ announcement, Cavallo said: “It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that my story has helped guide Jake to be his true self.
“It’s touching to see the millions of people that my story has impacted and inspired around the world, and to see it help evolve the world game at all levels, is fantastic. This world and the game of football has a place for everyone. Love will always win.”
Countless fans and LGBTQ+ organisations praised Daniels for his decision, with Liz Ward, director of programmes at Stonewall saying she was “heartened” to hear about the “solidarity and support” he received from his Blackpool FC teammates.
Daniels was even thanked by the Prime Minister for his “bravery”.
Boris Johnson said on Twitter: “Thank you for your bravery Jake, it would have taken huge courage to come out and you will be an inspiration to many both on and off the pitch.”