There are just a handful of out, gay professional footballers in the world – here are their stories

Left to right: Out gay male pro footballers Josh Cavallo, Zander Murray, Jakub Jankto, Phuti Lekoloane and Jake Daniels.

The world of men’s professional football has long been playing catch-up when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation and visibility, with very few openly gay professional footballers. But that may soon change.

As it stands, there are no active male professional footballers in Germany who are openly out as gay, however, according to German newspaper Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung, several pro players across the nation are planning to come out on May 17 – the Friday before the final weekend of the Bundesliga season.

If even a couple of German players do come out, it will massively swell the tiny ranks of openly gay pro footballers: at the moment, only six are known of, and one of them – Zander Murray – recently announced he is retiring.

One of the handful of players who’ve bravely opened up about their sexuality is Czech player Jakub Jankto, who declared: “I no longer want to hide myself” as he came out publicly as gay in a moving video on social media on 13 February 2023.

Despite the progress, homophobia in men’s football at large remains rife: there are still no out gay male players in the English Premier League, and an initiative was recently set up in a bid to tackle a series of “damaging” homophobic incidents at stadiums across the country.

But as small wins continue to be scored, these players are proving that you can be out and proud at the top of the men’s game…

Josh Cavallo – Adelaide United, Australia

Josh Cavallo next to the World Cup
Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo came out publically in October 2021. (Getty)

Josh Cavallo plays left back and central midfielder for Australian A-League team Adelaide United. The 24-year-old star came out publicly as gay in October 2021 in an emotional open letter and heartfelt video posted on social media. 

As he came out, Cavallo said that he wanted to use his platform to build more bridges for the LGBTQ+ community. His announcement saw him become the world’s only active out gay male top-flight professional footballer at the time.

Since opening up about his sexuality, Cavallo has used his voice to speak out against FIFA’s decision to penalise players who wore the OneLove diversity armband at the 2022 World Cup.

He also condemned the competition being held in Qatar, where same-sex sexual relations are illegal. 

Cavallo has also been open about his friendship with Thomas Beattie, a retired English footballer who came out as gay after the end of his career.

The Australian star shared that he’s “worked closely” with Beattie and said the former Warriors FC player “opened [his] eyes” to the power of coming out publically.

Josh Cavallo also recently revealed he wouldn’t go to the 2034 FIFA World Cup in Saudi Arabia if selected, because of the country’s anti-gay laws.

Jake Daniels – Blackpool FC, England

Blackpool FC's Jake Daniels playing football
Blackpool’s Jake Daniels was the first UK male professional footballer to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990. (Getty)

Footballer Jake Daniels is a forward for English Football League Championship club Blackpool.

In May 2022, the then-17-year-old striker became the UK’s first professional male footballer to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

At the time, Daniels told Sky Sports News that he was “ready to tell people my story” as he wants fans to “know the real me”. 

Daniels explained that he wanted to come out so that he could live his life how he wanted, and in the hope that he could “be a role model” to others who may want to do the same. 

Despite his young age, Daniels, now 19, has handled the media frenzy that followed with grace. 

In a Channel 4 documentary, Out and Proud in Football,  Daniels explains that Tom Daley’s 2021 alternative Christmas message encouraging “one impossibly brave Premier League player” to come out publicly had a big impact on him, prompting him to share his story.

In December 2023, Daniels told Daily Star Sport how after coming out, he’s received nothing but support from his teammates and the main pressure he feels is to simply prove that he’s a good footballer, as all players do.

“Obviously I am a gay footballer, but at the end of the day, I am just a footballer and I just want to be a professional footballer. That is my main focus,” he said.

Zander Murray – Gala Fairydean Rovers, Scotland – retired

Footballer Zander Murray in front of a Pride rainbow
Zander Murray is the only out player in Scotland’s top leagues. (Gala Fairydean Rovers/

We’ll still include trailblazing Scottish footballer Zander Murray in this list, even though he recently announced he plans to retire from professional football.

Murray was playing for Gala Fairydean Rovers, in the Lowland League, when he publicly revealed his sexuality. 

His began his career at Motherwell before moving on to Airdrieonians, where Justin Fashanu also played. 

In September 2022, the then 30-year-old forward became the first openly gay Scottish male professional footballer.

He described how he had been “living in fear 24/7” before deciding to be open about his sexuality, and following his announcement he revealed that he also has a boyfriend. 

Murray said he hoped that his openness would “inspire others” as he told Sky Sports some of his initial concerns about coming out.

“Coming out is one thing, but then accepting it walking around with your queer friends… no one gives you a rulebook on how you are going to feel in public,” he said.

“‘Oh no, what if my football friends see me, what are they going to say?’, [that’s some of the worries I had] in my early stages of coming out.”

In January 2023, Murray made history once again when he signed with League Two side Bonnyrigg Rose, making him the only openly gay footballer in Scotland’s top four divisions.

In December 2023, he announced he was retiring from the sport.

Jakub Jankto – Cagliari Calcio, Italy

Jakub Jankto during a football match.
Jakub Jankto plays for the Czech national team and Sparta Prague. (Getty)

Czech player Jakub Jankto is the most recent male pro footballer to publicly come out. 

He was previously a player for Sparta Prague where he was on loan from Spanish La Liga outfit Getafe. He posted a moving clip to social media declaring his sexuality in February 2023, becoming the first active senior international men’s footballer to do so.

In it, he bravely announced that he wants to live his life “in freedom, without fears, without prejudice, without violence, but with love”. 

The 28-year-old midfielder, who has been capped 45 times by the Czech Republic national team, said in the viral clip: “I am homosexual, and I no longer want to hide myself.”

Messages of solidarity flooded in following Jankto’s post, with Sports Media LGBT+ founder Jon Holmes stating the moment was “history-making for the men’s game”. 

Holmes told Sky Sports: “Jakub is the first active senior international player to come out as gay or bisexual publically. That in itself is a really significant moment for football.”

In October 2023, he said that if he could come out as gay again, he would, because now he can do what he loves “without hiding or being scared.”

Collin Martin – North Carolina FC, USA

San Diego Loyal forfeit game in protest after alleged homophobic slur
Collin Martin plays for San Diego Loyal in the USL Championship. (Shaun Clark/Getty)

Collin Martin is a midfielder for North Carolina FC, and previously played for San Diego Loyal in the USL Championship. He publicly came out as gay in 2018 while playing for while playing for Minnesota United FC in the Major League Soccer.

On coming out, Martin later told ESPN: “I want [my clubs] to want me as a soccer player, and as a person.”

The 29-year-old previously told the Daily Express that he believes the lack of LGBTQ+ representation could be down to agents “advising” stars to stay in the closet.

He has also been vocal about the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and during a December interview with PinkNews said his “biggest disappointment” during the tournament was world governing body FIFA’s apparent apathy on LGBTQ+ rights.

He said: “There has been no interest from FIFA in trying to actually improve the lives of the people that are living there. 

“I think it should have been awarded to a more progressive country that’s willing to open its doors to everyone.”

Phuti Lekoloane – Tornado FC, South Africa

Out gay South African footballer Phuti Lekoloane holding a football
South African goalkeeper Phuti Lekoloane came out publicly in 2015. (Facebook)

Phuti Lekoloane, also known as Phuti Minaj, is a goalkeeper for South African SAFA Second Division club Tornado FC.

The keeper came out publicly as gay in July 2015 and remains the only gay male footballer in in the country playing at a high level. 

In an interview with ESPN, Lekoloane explained that ahead of his coming out a lot of people knew he was gay, just not in football. 

He was outed on a live radio show, something which, he said, caught him “off guard” but made him realise he was “braver” then he thought. 

However, Lekoloane, 31, says that coming out has had a negative impact on his sporting career, telling ESPN: “A lot of clubs shut doors in my face because of my sexuality. Not everyone will be comfortable with something they don’t know, so it has hit me very hard and it has taken a lot from me.”

Offering advice to others, he said: “It doesn’t matter how many doors are shut in your face, you need to stay true to yourself.”

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