Blackpool forward Jake Daniels has become the first active male professional football player in the United Kingdom to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.
Daniels told Sky Sports, which first reported the news, that he knew he was gay since he was five or six years old, but kept it a secret as he pursued a career in football.
"I wasn't ready and it was a struggle, but I just don't want to lie anymore," Daniels said.
Daniels, who made his senior debut for the club this month and scored 30 goals this season, said he hopes to be a role model to others.
"There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality. I just want to tell them that you donít have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in," Daniels said in an open letter.
The Blackpool Football Club said that they were "incredibly proud that [Daniels] has reached a stage where he is empowered to express himself both on-and-off the pitch."
The club said it has worked closely with LGBTQIA+ organization Stonewall and relevant footballing organizations to support Daniels.
"It is vital that we all promote an environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves, and that football leads the way in removing any form of discrimination and prejudice," the club said.
The Professional Footballer's Association (PFA) said that they were "extremely proud" of Daniels.
"The whole football community must continue to work to make our game an environment where all those involved feel safe and supported, and where they feel comfortable when choosing how to tell their own stories," PFA said in a statement.