Justin Fashanu's niece says her uncle would have warmly welcomed Jake Daniels decision to come out as gay

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The niece of former Hearts striker Justin Fashanu has said her uncle would have warmly welcomed the decision of Blackpool player Jake Daniels to come out as gay.

Daniels became the UK’s first male professional player to come out as gay since Fashanu in 1990.Fashanu, the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee, went on to play for Hearts during the 1993-94 season, and sadly took his own life in 1998 at the age of 37.

Amal Fashanu, the founder of The Justin Fahanu Foundation, said: “The Justin Fashanu Foundation would like to commend Jake for the immense bravery he has shown today by taking this step in making his sexuality public. First and foremost this is an important moment for Jake, and it is wonderful to see that his friends and his family have been so supportive.

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“If my Uncle Justin were alive I know he would have been one of the first people to have contacted Jake to offer his support and best wishes. Justin’s wish was to create a society where people could simply be kinder to one another and where bigotry doesn’t exist.

Justin Fashanu.Justin Fashanu.
Justin Fashanu.

“Jake’s announcement will come as a huge comfort to the many footballers at all levels of the game - from grass roots to the professional leagues - still secretly living as gay and who still feel unable to come out. I truly hope this announcement marks a turning point and that other footballers, who wish to do so, feel they can talk more openly about the life they lead off the field.

“The sad reality is there is still a lot of homophobia in the game, at all levels. Until the authorities take firm and more decisive action I am concerned many players will continue to live in secret, wrongly believing they have something to be ashamed of. Homophobia in the game needs to be treated with the zero tolerance approach racism rightly receives. Only then may we see more players, like Jake, willing to step out of the shadows - and live the life they truly wish to.”

The Foundation was founded in memory of Justin Fashanu to fight racism and promoto positive mental health in football.

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