Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay footballer, to be posthumously inducted into Hall of Fame

Greg Evans
Tuesday 18 February 2020 08:30
sport
Picture:(Allsport UK /Allsport/Getty Images)

Justin Fashanu, who became the first and to date openly gay male professional footballer in Britain, will be posthumously inducted in the National Football Museum's Hall of Fame.

During his career, Fashanu played for the likes of Norwich City, Nottingham Forest and Notts County as well as England under-21s.

He was also the first black footballer in the country to warrant a £1m transfer fee when signing for Forest in 1981.

His goal against Liverpool is also one of the most iconic strikes of the period and is still fondly remembered by Norwich fans to this day.

Fashabu came out publicly in The Sun newspaper in October 1990 but just eight years later he took his own life, following a turbulent number of years after going public, which included allegations of a sexual assault.

He will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Manchester on Wednesday, where his niece, Amal, who also runs The Justin Fashanu Foundation, will receive the award on what would have been his 59th birthday.

Speaking to Sky Sports, she said:

I think he wouldn't believe it himself. I know he would be extremely honoured, and I know that I am extremely honoured and so is my family.

I guess for Justin this would be a great moment and I think it's a pivotal moment when we are finally recognising who Justin Fashanu was, not only as the openly gay footballer, but also as a very talented footballer and the first million-pound black player in England.

Amal, whose father John was also a footballer, came under scrutiny at the time for failing to lend his support for his brother's coming out but has since become a trustee of the foundation, which aims to raise awareness on homophobia and mental health in football and raise the profile of LGBTQ+ people in all levels of the sport.

Following the news of Fashanu's induction into the Hall of Fame, tributes have begun to pour in for the star who remains a brave pioneer in a sport which is still struggling to tackle homophobia and bigotry.

Notable players like Tomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers have come out as gay while they were still playing or shortly after they had retired but none have done so while playing in England or any of Europe's major leagues.

The women's game has not had the same issues, with major stars like Megan Rapinoe, Sam Kerr and Beth Mead all openly gay and proud.

Amal added:

I think it has got easier because we have moved on in life and in general. I think everyone, in other industries, we're very happy to accept is gay or who is whatever they choose to be, but I guess within football, because it is such a close-knit, dark archaic kind of vibe, it's very difficult.

I think today, if a footballer came out it would be definitely not even half as bad as Justin coming out, but I think it would still be hard, it would still be a challenge. But what's harder, to live pretending to be someone else or to be yourself?

HT Sky Sports

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