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'I think it's an incredibly brave step from him. You hope others will follow his lead'

David Meyler has praised Jake Daniels following his decision to publicly come out.

DAVID MEYLER HAS expressed his praise and admiration for Jake Daniels following his decision to publicly announce his sexuality this week.

imago-20220507 Jake Daniels shaking hands with Ronnie Edwards of Peterborough United. Source: Imago/PA Images

The 17-year-old Blackpool forward has become the UK’s first active male professional footballer to come out as gay, and is the first Briton in the men’s professional game to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Daniels made the announcement to Sky Sports, following an impressive season with Blackpool in which he made his first-debut for the side and also scored 30 goals.

The former Ireland international, who was forced to retire from football in 2019, says he hopes that other players will feel confident to follow in Daniels’ footsteps.

“To the best of my knowledge I never played with anyone who was gay,” he responds when asked if he thought he would see a progressive moment like this in the modern game.

“I’d like to think if there was a gay person in the changing room they’d have felt they could have opened up to their fellow team-mates. I know I would have supported that person.

“Obviously a lot has changed in the years since I first went into a Premier League changing room. I think it’s an incredibly brave step from him. Obviously he has the love and support of his team-mates, his family, the club. And you’ve seen the reaction; not only in the UK but worldwide. Everybody has gotten behind him.

2232086 Former Ireland midfielder David Meyler. Source: Sportsfile

“You’re hoping in the year 2022 that it would be acceptable because it’s gone on for too long where nobody has come forward.

“It’s taken this long for people to make the step and come out. You hope now that others will follow his lead.”

Meyler added that he believes societal changes towards members of the LGBTQ+ community have contributed to helping football create a more inclusive environment for players to play in and live in.

“The world is evolving,” he says. “There’s no reason for it not to be acceptable. It’s not an all-boys’ club where you have to be this particular type of man or anything like that. There probably was that for a long time.

“Can you imagine his relief this morning with that weight off his shoulders? Now he can go and concentrate on his football, go and play football. It makes me think, how many others are suffering in silence?

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“You look at the stigma around mental health.. how for a long time it was kind of frowned upon. Then you saw so many men come forward and speaking about their battles with depression, what they went through. Many years ago people couldn’t come forward. That was then broken where men would come forward. You’re hoping this is the first case of [a player coming out], where people can come forward to share this with their teammates and the club they play for.

“It’s 2022, time to move on. You just want him now to go on and have an incredible career, show he’s done the right thing and others can follow him.”

The SPAR FAI Primary School 5s National Finals took place in AVIVA Stadium on Tuesday, May 17, where former Republic of Ireland International David Meyler was in attendance  as girls and boys from 28 schools took to the field in a day that they will never forget. 

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