Jake Daniels’ former teacher commends ‘inspirational bravery’ as teenager becomes first openly gay professional footballer in 30 years

Football fans, LGBT charities, campaigners, teachers, and football legends from England’s top league have rallied in support of Blackpool FC forward Jake Daniels after he became the first openly gay professional footballer in nearly 30 years.

The 17-year-old made the announcement in a Sky Sports interview yesterday, making him the only openly gay male professional in Britain since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

The world of football was quick to show support for the rising star, with congratulations coming from Gary Neville, Harry Kane, David De Gea,

Magdalena Eriksson and Pernille Harder.

Jake Daniels in possession as Chelsea's Brodi Hughes looks on during Chelsea Under-18 vs Blackpool Under-18, FA Youth Cup Football at Stamford Bridge, February 2022

Stephen Careless, head teacher of Montgomery Academy, where Daniels studied, said: “Montgomery Academy would like to recognise the inspirational bravery demonstrated by our former pupil Jake Daniels. We should not underestimate Jake’s courage to make such a statement and become only the second openly gay professional footballer. At Montgomery, we pride ourselves in celebrating our pupils’ diversity and aim to recognise and nurture their talents.

"We would like to congratulate Blackpool FC on the support they have given Jake on this momentous day. Jake has had an outstanding year, scoring 30 goals for the youth team, making his first team debut and now leading the way for change in his profession. We are exceptionally proud to call him a member of the Montgomery family and look forward to welcoming him back to inspire success in others.”

Blackpool Pride chairman Paul Dewick Day said: “He has been really brave; he’s only 17 and doing really well coming into his career. It shouldn’t have to be a big thing, but it is a massive step for the football world.

“Blackpool FC are supporting the Blackpool Pride parade this year, so we'd love for him to join us and show him that what he is doing is amazing, and hopefully it will be a spring-board for other footballers to come out. The support for him has been absolutely amazing.”

Blackpool FC fan Chris English said: “I support Jake Daniels on his decision to come out as gay at such a time in his life. He’s an absolute credit to Blackpool FC, as a gay football fan, with family ties to Blackpool, I’m really chuffed he felt good about his surroundings to be able to come out.

"We have been to Blackpool so many times, it’s a fantastic place, and wanted to let you know what a fantastic role model to people, young and old Jake is. I wish Jake, and Blackpool Football Club my very best. Blackpool has a great tradition of welcoming diversity. Look after this young man. He’s a very special guy.”

LGBT+ charities praised Daniels’ ‘incredible courage’ following his big announcement

Liz Ward, director of programmes at LGBT charity Stonewall, which pioneered the Rainbow Laces campaign to promote LGBT acceptance in sport, said: “We are proud that Jake has felt able to share his truth with the world.

“To come out publicly as the UK’s first openly gay professional footballer in nearly 30 years takes incredible courage, and we’re heartened by the solidarity and support he has received from Blackpool FC and his team-mates.

“Football is ready for this moment and we believe it has been for some time. Our Rainbow Laces campaign has taught us that, while there is still a way to go, attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in sport are changing.

“We are moving towards a world where players can live openly as their true selves, both on and off pitch – and that is something we can all take pride in.

“Stonewall is proud to provide ongoing support to Jake, his close network and Blackpool FC to navigate the challenges of coming out in the public eye.

“This is an opportunity for everyone involved in football – from the players to the fans in the stands – to support Jake and show that football is everybody’s game.”

A spokesman for Football v Homophobia, an international initiative created to stand up to discrimination within the game, added: “We would like to congratulate Jake on taking this step to share his authentic self in the men’s professional game, especially at such a young age.

“There have previously been players who felt that they had no place in the game as out gay men during their playing careers, but Jake is showing the world that you can be yourself.

“We hope that football will join us in celebrating Jake’s news and take proactive steps to ensure that he receives the support he deserves, from players, fans, clubs and the football authorities.”

Joe White, co-chair of Pride In Football, a network of UK LGBTQ+ fan groups, said: “It’s just a lot of amazement, awe at Jake, and it’s just wonderful. I can’t stop smiling whenever we’re talking about it so I think that says it all.”

They said that football was once “not a welcoming place” for LGBTQ+ people.

“I’d go to games and you’d hear homophobic chanting, homophobic slurs. And when you realise that, actually, those words are about someone like you, it makes it feel like football is an alienating place and not somewhere that you are welcome as your authentic self,” they said.

“It’s been really promising to see how many people are getting behind and showing their support for him on social media.

“The Premier League clubs have been tweeting already and sadly, yes, you do get a few trolls and homophobes still, but it’s been lovely to see overwhelming positivity across the board.”