The letter does not have a name, but it does have a meaningful message. This is a letter from a player from the Premier League who openly admits to being homosexual. However, he regrets that the prejudices that surround soccer prevent him from living and freely saying what he wants.
In the anonymous letter, the footballer admits that he does not dare to tell his coach and colleagues that he is gay. The fear of losing everything and being judged by fans and more restrains it. In addition, he has asked that everyone involved in football be educated to avoid cases of discrimination.
This is the letter from a gay Premier League footballer
“As a child, all I ever wanted to be was to be a footballer. I wasn’t interested in doing well at school. Instead of doing his homework, every free minute he had was spent with a ball. In the end it was worth it. But even now I still have to pinch myself when I run away and I can play every week in front of tens of thousands of people.
However, there is something that sets me apart from most other Premier League players. I’m gay. Even writing that in this letter is a big step for me. But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don’t feel ready to share it with my team or my coach. That is hard. I spend most of my life with these guys and when we go out on the field we are a team.
But still, something inside of me makes it impossible for me to be open with them about how I feel. I sincerely hope that one day I can do it. From the age of 19 I knew that he was gay. How does it feel to have to live like this? Day by day, it can be an absolute nightmare. And it’s affecting my mental health more and more. I feel trapped and my fear is that revealing the truth about who I am will only make things worse.
So even though my heart often tells me that I need to do it, my head always says the same thing: “Why risk everything?” I am lucky to earn a very good salary. I have a nice car, a closet full of designer clothes and I can buy whatever I want for my family and friends.
But one thing I am missing is company. I am at an age where I would love to have a relationship. But because of the work I do, the level of confidence in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high.
So, for the moment, I avoid all relationships. I very much hope to meet someone soon whom I think I can trust enough. The truth is that I don’t think football is ready for a player to come out. The game would need to make radical changes for me to feel capable of taking that step.
The Professional Footballers Association says they are ready to help a player out. And they have said they will offer advice and support to anyone who needs it. This is missing the point. If I need a counselor, I can go and book a session whenever I want.
What those running the game must do is educate fans, players, managers, agents, club owners, basically everyone involved in the game. If I had to take that step, I would like to know that I would receive support at every step of my journey. Right now, I don’t feel like I would be.
I wish I didn’t have to live my life that way. But the reality is that there is still a lot of prejudice in soccer. There are countless times that I have heard homophobic chants and supporter comments directed at anyone in particular.
Oddly, it doesn’t really bother me during games. I am too focused on playing. It is when I return to the plane or to the coach and I have time to think that it affects me. As things stand, my plan is to keep playing as long as I can and then go out when I retire.
It was great last month to see Thomas Beattie raise his hand and admit that he was gay. But the fact that he had to wait until retirement tells him everything he needs to know. Footballers are still too scared to take the plunge as they play.
During the past year I have received the support of the Justin Fashanu Foundation, especially to face the cost that this has on my mental health.
It is difficult to express in words how much the Foundation has helped. It has made me feel supported and understood, as well as giving me the confidence to be more open and honest with myself especially.
Without that support, I really don’t know where I would be now. I know it could get to the point where it is impossible for me to continue living a lie. If I do, my plan is to retire early and leave. It could be pulling years of a lucrative career.
But it cannot put a price on your peace of mind. And I don’t want to live like this forever. “
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