Jake Daniels is currently the only professional footballer in Europe who has come out as gay. Many soccer stars have expressed their admiration for the 17-year-old’s move.

“I’ve known all my life that I’m gay and now I feel ready to come out and be myself.” With these words Jake Daniels confessed to his homosexuality on the website of his club, the British second division club FC Blackpool. The 17-year-old is the only active professional footballer in Europe who has taken this step.

For this, Daniels received encouragement from all sides in the football business – from former and active football stars, fans and clubs. “Well done”, Thomas Hitzlsperger praised the Englishman. Hitzlsperger himself was the only football professional in Germany to come out after his active career. On Twitter, the former DFB national player wished Daniels a “wonderful career”.

Footballer Jake Daniels comes out as gay

In England, the talent’s coming out met with an almost unanimously positive response. “Kudos to you and the way your friends, family, club and captain have supported you,” wrote Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur goalscorer and England captain, to Daniels. Everyone should be welcomed in football, Kane said. Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea welcomed the teenager’s “wonderful courage”.

England football legend Gary Lineker, now a TV presenter, also congratulated Daniels on the move: “It was a brilliant season for you on the field, and thanks to your courage, it’s now off the pitch,” the 61-year-old tweeted. “I’m sure you will have a lot of love and support from the football community and many will follow you on this journey.”

Gary Neville, also a former England international and today’s TV expert, spoke on “Sky News” of an “important day for English football”. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked Daniels for his “huge courage” and added: “You will inspire a lot of people on and off the field.”

Under the tweet from Daniel’s club Blackpool FC, other Premier League clubs also expressed their solidarity with Daniel. As Chelsea wrote “We are proud of you Jake! Football is for everyone.” Liverpool posted “You have our full support and backing from everyone at Liverpool. We are proud of your strength and bravery”, Arsenal added “Thank you, that you had the courage to speak up today. Football is for everyone.”

The first coming out of an English professional since 1990

“I just don’t want to lie anymore,” Jake Daniels justified his coming out. “I’m only 17, but I’m aware that it’s what I want to do,” said the Blackpool youngster, “and if because of my coming out, other people see that and that Feeling that maybe they can do the same would be awesome.” He is the first professional footballer in England since 1990 to take this step.

Sources: Blackpool FC / Thomas Hitzlsperger on Twitter / Harry Kane on Twitter / David de Gea on Twitter / Gary Lineker on Twitter / “Sky Sports News” / Boris Johnson on Twitter / DPA