A GAY Premier League footballer today reveals the daily torment of keeping his sexuality secret from his team-mates.
In an open letter — aimed at authorities and fans — he says he is taking the “huge step” of opening up over his ordeal
But he says football is not ready for an openly gay player and he is scared to reveal his identity.
He is being supported by the Justin Fashanu Foundation, run by the tragic footballer’s niece Amal.
The charity, fighting homophobia and racism in football, handed us the letter to raise awareness of the issues facing gay stars.
In it the player writes: “I am gay. Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me.
“But only my family members and a select group of friends are aware of my sexuality. I don’t feel ready to share it with my team or my manager.”
He goes on: “How does it feel having to live like this? Day-to-day, it can be an absolute nightmare. And it is affecting my mental health more and more.
“I feel trapped and my fear is disclosing the truth about what I am will only make things worse.”
There are currently no openly gay or bisexual male professional footballers in the UK.
But Watford’s Troy Deeney believes every team has at least one — and backed them to come out.
He said: “Once the first comes out, there would be loads.”
The PFA said it “welcomes the opportunity to work alongside any player who chooses to come out”.
The FA offered its “full support”.
FOOTBALL star Justin Fashanu killed himself aged 37 in 1998 — eight years after coming out as Britain’s first gay player.
He was the brother of FA Cup-winning ex-Wimbledon striker John Fashanu, 57.
Amal Fashanu, 31, set up The Justin Fashanu Foundation in her uncle’s name last year.
The charity campaigns against homophobia and racism in football and aims to raise mental health issues.
It has helped seven footballers, including two Premier League stars, who are secretly gay or bisexual.
And it has visited clubs, including Norwich City and Nottingham Forest, who Justin, left, played for, to discuss mental health and homophobia. Three Norwich players are set to be unveiled as foundation ambassadors.
Activist Amal said: “I set up the foundation because I don’t want what happened to Justin to happen to any other player.
“They can end up in a football bubble where they can’t be who they are, and that’s agonising.”
She added: “That can really harm an individual’s mental health. You can feel lonely and scared and end up doing things you might re- gret which could lead to tragedy.”
“They can trust me enough to open up and I can find them the right help.”
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