Ian McKellen, Prince William and more join chorus of praise for gay footballer Jake Daniels

Blackpool footballer Jake Daniels stars at the camera while wearing a dark top

Iconic gay actor Ian McKellen, Prince William and more have applauded Jake Daniels after the Blackpool player came out publicly in a historic move for UK football. 

Daniels came out as gay on Monday (16 May) in a heartfelt interview where he shared that he was ready to “be myself” after “such a long time of lying” about his sexuality. The 17-year-old told Sky Sports that he hoped to be a “role model” in the world of football and help others feel like they can live their truth as well. 

Football fans, LGBTQ+ advocates and politicians have all praised the Blackpool forward for his bravery in coming out publicly. He is the first British male pro footballer to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu made history in 1990.

A host of public figures have voiced their support for the young football star since he shares his truth with the world.

Sir Ian McKellen hailed the teenager as a “hero” on Twitter and said Daniels represented a “generation that rejects old-fashioned homophobia in football and elsewhere”. 

“At 17, [Jake Daniels] represents a generation that rejects old-fashioned homophobia in football and elsewhere: those who haven’t yet grown up as he has,” McKellen wrote. 

He continued: “He sets an example. No wonder so many of us, gay and everyone else, admire & treasure him as a hero. What a goal he’s scored!”

Prince William, who is the president of the Football Association, also tweeted his support for Jake Daniels on Tuesday (17 May). The Duke of Cambridge declared that football “should be a game for everyone”, and he believed that Daniels’ decision to “speak openly” will “help break down barriers” in society.

“What Jake has done takes courage and will hopefully help break down barriers that have no place in our society,” Prince William wrote. “I hope his decision to speak openly gives others the confidence to do the same.”

Phillip Schofield praised Daniels for hurling the “world forward by being incredibly brave” during Tuesday’s edition of This MorningManchester Evening News reported. 

Schofield, who famously came out on an episode of This Morning back in 2020, said it was “important now” that Daniels will have an “amazing amount of support, help and care within his own football community”. 

Great British Bake Off host Matt Lucas tweeted that Jake Daniels’ “brave” decision to come out publicly was a “landmark day in British LGBT history”. Lucas said he had “huge respect” for Daniels, his football club and his teammates for “supporting” the teen. 

Daniels told Sky Sports that he had been “hiding the real me and who I really am” for years and even considering waiting until “I’ve retired to come out” as there weren’t any openly queer male footballers in the “professional game here”. 

“However, I knew that would lead to a long time of lying and not being able to be myself or lead the life that I want to,” Jake Daniels said. 

Daniels shared that he had come out to his teammates at Blackpool, who had been “absolutely amazing”. He said they had all “been so supportive”, adding “everyone has had my back”. 

“Of course, everyone was kind of shocked in a way and they were asking why I didn’t tell them earlier,” Daniels added. “That was a great reaction because it showed how much they cared.”