Jake Daniels, European Soccer Player, Becomes U.K.'s First Openly Gay Player

Jake Daniels, a 17-year-old soccer player for Blackpool FC, came out as gay on Monday. By doing so, he became the first openly gay player in European soccer.

Daniels, a forward, who's in his first professional season, made the announcement in a statement shortly after Blackpool's season came to a close.

“This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch,” Daniels said via his statement “But off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I really am. I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself.

“It’s a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality.”

Daniels then revealed that he's tired of lying and hopes to inspires others with his message.

“I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in. I want to be a role model myself by doing this," added Daniels. "There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality."

His statement continued: “I just want to tell them that you don’t have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in. You being you, and being happy, is what matters most.”

Daniels' announcement comes just under a year after then-Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib came out as the first openly gay player in the NFL. He spent the entire season with Vegas, then was released by the team in March. Nassib is currently a free agent.

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Anthony is a former high school basketball intramural champion who played a leading role in creating two offspring. He spends his weekends hoping for an MTV Rock N' Jock revival. Follow him on X (@OhioAF).