Gay footballer Jake Daniels, 18, met ‘soulmate’ partner, 46, after coming out

Blackpool footballer Jack Daniels sitting in a changing room

Out gay footballer Jake Daniels, 18, has revealed that his partner Mark, 46, was among the thousands who messaged him to congratulate him on coming out publicly last year.

Blackpool FC player Daniels became the first professional player in British men’s football to come out publicly since Justin Fashanu in 1990, when he shared his sexuality in an interview with Sky Sports in May 2022. He was 17 at the time.

One year on, the young sports star has spoken about how he struck up a relationship with Mark, who is 28 years his senior, after his now-partner congratulated him on coming out via a direct message on Instagram.

“I came out and had my Instagram, my Twitter taken off me, so I didn’t see anything,” Daniels recalled during an appearance on Rylan Clarke’s BBC Radio 4 podcast How to Be a Man.

Blackpool football star Jake Daniels stares at the camera with football uniforms in the background
Blackpool FC’s Jake Daniels was the first professional player in British men’s football to come out publicly since Justin Fashanu in 1990. (YouTube/Sky Sports)

“I think when I got my Instagram back I had 20,000 message requests or something ridiculous like that. I’d never seen that in my life,” Daniels said.

“There was just one day, I was about to get on a train and I went on my message requests just to have a gander and the top message was from my partner, just congratulating me.

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“Obviously, I had a sneaky look on his Instagram and I was like, ‘Alright!’ Dropped a message back and said ‘Thank you so much’ – and at the end asked something like ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’ Just to try and … I knew what my motive was.

“We just got chatting from there, I think we FaceTimed that night and then met up a few days later in Blackpool and then, you know, we’ve been together ever since.”

Daniels went on to describe Mark as his “soulmate” before being asked by Clarke whether he was happy, to which the footballer replied: “100 per cent. Couldn’t be any more happy.”

Daniels first publicly confirmed his relationship with Mark in an interview with The Times in March, where the sporting trailblazer also stated that he “find[s] older guys attractive”.

“For me, 30 is too young,” he said. “Over 40 is better.”

Daniels added: “I wanted a relationship and stability – and I’ve got that now.”

The Times article noted that Daniels’ mother had “come to terms” with the age gap after previously expressing concern at Daniels’ prior relationships with older men.

The almost 30-year age difference between Daniels and his partner has sparked debate about age gap relationships online, particularly given that the Blackpool FC player was 17 when the relationship began.

“i’m happy for Jake Daniels but the fact his partner is three times older than him is just flat out weird,” wrote one Twitter user.

Others defended the relationship, with another social media user commenting: “Keep seeing Jake Daniels and his 40 year old boyf discourse on the TL tonight and d’ya know what just let him live you evil twinks! If they’re happy, they’re happy. Who can be bothered may I ask?”

Some expressed discomfort with the age gap while also calling for Daniels to be given space as he contends with being one of the UK’s most high-profile out gay athletes and being one of just a handful of gay footballers at the top of the men’s game.

Despite the chatter around his relationship, Daniels has been a staunch advocate for LGBTQ+ equality in football and beyond since his historic coming out interview first aired.

Last November, the footballer indicated that he backed calls for a boycott of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment and where queer Muslim men can face death.

“It would frustrate me, because why am I trying to hide my personal life for other people?” said Daniels of the idea of playing in Qatar himself.

“Like, I’m going to play football for you and you can’t respect how I want to be, so it’s just not what I want to do.”

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