A gay Premier League footballer has admitted he is afraid to come out in an anguished open letter.
The star, who is not yet ready to reveal his identity, says only some family members and a ‘select group’ of friends are aware of his sexuality.
He confirms neither his teammates nor manager know he is gay, but ‘dearly hopes’ he will be able to tell them ‘one day soon’.
In a letter released to The Sun by the Justin Fashanu Foundation – who are supporting the player – he writes: “I am gay. Even writing that down in this letter is a big step for me.
“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 players in the UK, with Watford striker Troy Deeney recently speculating every team has at least one.
He said: “Once the first comes out, there would be loads.”
The FA have offered their ‘full support’, while the PFA said they ‘welcome the opportunity to work alongside any player who chooses to come out’.
Former Norwich player Justin Fashanu killed himself in 1998, aged 37, eight years after coming out as Britain’s first gay player.
His niece Amal Fashanu set up the Justin Fashanu Foundation in the name her uncle last year. It aims to help eradicate homophobia and racism in football and to raise mental health issues.
Amal, 31, 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.”