Scotland’s first gay footballer Zander Murray to retire 

Scotland’s first out gay footballer has announced he will retire from the sport at the end of this season. 

Zander Murray, who plays for Gala Fairydean Rovers FC as a forward, made headlines when in 2022 he became the first professional player in the senior Scottish game to come out as gay.

Speaking with the BBC about his decision to retire, 32-year-old Murray announced this season will be his last and shared details of his career plans beyond the beautiful game. 

“The big thing is, it’s my final season as a footballer,” he told the beep, “I think you just know when your time is up and that’s where I’m at. You just know when the right time is.”

“I have achieved what I wanted to. I wanted to play in the league and I have done that. And I feel with what is happening off the pitch for me, I don’t really want to go on any further.”

Since coming out, Murray has become a fierce voice for equality, inclusivity and acceptance in sport. He uses his platform to campaign against homophobia in football by working with charities such as Stonewall, speaking at events, football academies and even taking part in a documentary.

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“I have started doing corporate speaking, going in to speak to businesses and speaking to very male-dominated areas like construction. I talk to people about my experiences and help them to talk about these issues,” he explained. 

Zander Murray during the Edinburgh Pride March at the Scottish Parliament Building, on June 24, 2023, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Mark Scates/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Murray will finish off his career with Gala Fairydean Rovers FC, where he played for a number of seasons before briefly moving to Bonnyrigg at the start of the year – transferring back to Gala in September. 

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“It is nice to stay and finish my career there,” he said, adding the people at the club have been a “massive” help to him. 

“They’re people that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. The club is very important to me,” Murray continued. 

Discussing his post career options, Murray suggested he might go into coaching for women’s teams, praising the LGBTQ+ inclusivity that is so deeply embedded in the women’s game. 

He described women’s football as “welcoming” and like a “safe space”, noting that despite all the support he has received from his teammates he has to “accept that I am never going to be my true authentic self in a dressing room full of straight men”. 

Murray said: “Maybe it’s my own internal issue but I wouldn’t feel comfortable as a coach in the men’s game. I feel that’s all on me.”

For Murray, his decision to retire and move on in his career is an optimistic one it seems. 

“Fifteen months ago I was scared,” he said to the BBC, “Now I am excited. I can see a path. There’s a space for me in this area.” 

He went on to say he always worried about what would give him the same “buzz” after he left football but through his activism he has found it. 

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“When I get thanked by someone for doing this I realise I see myself keeping on. And as long as I can help even one person, I’ll never give up.”

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