Blackpool FC star Jake Daniels has opened up on how he met his ‘soulmate’ in the days after he publicly came out as gay.
The footballer, 18, last year became the first player in the top four men’s divisions to come out as gay in 32 years, since Justin Fashanu in 1990.
In an interview with Sky Sports News at the time, the then-17-year-old said it felt like the ‘right time’ and that he wanted ‘people to know the real me.’
After the public announcement Jake switched off, going on holiday with his friends, and days later returned to tens of thousands of message requests on Instagram from people congratulating and supporting him – which is how he met his now-partner Mark, 46.
Jake has now given an insight into his decision to come out and his joy at living as his authentic self, in a recent interview with Rylan Clark for his How To Be A Man show on BBC Sounds.
‘I came out and had my Instagram, my Twitter taken off me,’ he recalled.
‘So I didn’t see anything. I think when I had my Instagram back I had 20,000 message requests or something ridiculous like that, I’d never seen that in my life.
‘There was one day, I was about to get on a train and I went on my message requests just to have a gander and the top message was from my [now] partner, just congratulating me.
‘I had a sneaky look on his Instagram and I was like, “Alright!” Dropped a message back and said “Thank you so much” – and at the end asked something like “Is there anything else I can do for you?” I knew what my motive was!
‘We got chatting from then, we FaceTimed a few times, met up a few days later in Blackpool and we’ve been together ever since.
Jake added that Mark was ‘definitely my soulmate,’ and that he ‘couldn’t be any more happy’ now that he was out and in a loving relationship.
The young star had battled concerns about coming out, worrying it would affect his future transfer chances and admitting he wouldn’t have felt ‘safe’ playing in last year’s World Cup, where homosexuality is criminalised.
He knew he was gay from a young age, he added, but told nobody as he was afraid his friends would treat him differently.
In a message to his mother and sister, the first people he told he was gay, he wrote that nobody else could know yet ‘because of the job I’m in.’
Worried about being ‘judged’ by his teammates, he added: ‘The thing is, I don’t have any attraction to lads my age, but obviously no one will believe me.’
Jake finished the message to his family with the words: ‘I’d like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not.’
In his candid interview with Sky Sports last year, he said he was ‘probably five or six years old when I knew I was gay. So it’s been a long time that I have been living with the lie.’
He added: ‘Blackpool have been absolutely amazing too. I am with them every day and I felt safe. My team-mates have all been so supportive about it and everyone has had my back. They’ve been aSki Goggles (On Sale Here)ng tons of questions, they have all been intrigued and their reaction has been brilliant.
‘It’s the best thing I could have asked for.’
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First appear at Openly gay footballer Jake Daniels, 18, met ‘soulmate’ Mark, 46, after he slid into his DMs when he came out