Jake Daniels decided to be open publicly about his sexuality after watching Tom Daley’s Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4 last year; Daniels says he is so proud of himself and coming out is “one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life”
Blackpool Jake Daniels took inspiration from Tom Daley’s words last Christmas
England’s only out gay active professional footballer Jake Daniels has revealed that Olympic diving champion Tom Daley inspired him to come out.
Seventeen-year-old Blackpool forward Daniels, who publicly came out in May, made the decision to open up about his sexuality after watching Daley’s Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4 last year.
Daley, one of the UK’s most famous gay athletes, said if he had one wish for Christmas it would be that “one player steps forward and says, ‘I am gay'”.
Daniels watched the clip “over and over again” before taking the decision to heed Daley’s advice and now says it is “one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life”.
“In football, being gay is a taboo – even now,” Daniels said in Channel 4’s Out and Proud documentary.
“So I had a choice, either live my life as a lie and carry on playing football or come out and have to quit.
“For years I hid it, hid it from my friends and family, and hid it from my coaches and team-mates. I kept my head down when I heard homophobic banter in the dressing room and slowly it started getting to me. I was terrified of being found out and terrified of staying in.
“All the time at the training grounds and on match days running out in front of those crowds I wasn’t able to be myself, and then I saw Tom Daley speaking on Channel 4 on Christmas Day.
“He spoke about homophobia in sport and how amazing it would be, what a difference it would make if one brave player came out as gay.
“Eventually with the support of my friends and family and the support of Tom I decided to come out.”
Daniels says the reaction to his coming out has been overwhelmingly positive, revealing England stars Jordan Henderson and Reece James were among those to send him messages on social media.
“The support, how I feel, being able to live my life, how I want to live it, be myself every single day has been one of the most amazing things,” he added.
“It’s one of those things I don’t think I ever expected to happen. I used to tell myself that I wouldn’t tell anyone until I was on my deathbed. That was how scared I was. So to be in a place that I am now where I have done what I’ve done – to be pushing the game and helping other people – I am so proud of myself.”
Speaking about how it felt to hold on to his secret, Daniels said: “It was leading down the route where they were asking me to go to the doctors about certain stuff, like depression. And I kind of knew what the problem was, it was my sexuality. Definitely such a confidence boost being able to be yourself.”