‘What a goal!’ Sir Ian McKellen brands footballer Jake Daniels a ‘hero’ after coming out

This Morning: Phil reacts to Jake Daniels’ interview

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Blackpool’s Jake Daniels made headlines this week after becoming the first professional footballer in 32 years to publicly come out as gay. Sir Ian McKellen was full of praise for the 17-year-old, saying that he believes Jake’s act of courage could open the floodgates for a better experience for gay players in the future.

No wonder so many of us, gay and everyone else, admire & treasure him as a hero. What a goal he’s scored!

Sir Ian McKellan

Sir Ian wrote on Twitter: “At 17, @Jake_Daniels11 represents a generation that rejects old-fashioned homophobia in football and elsewhere: those who haven’t yet grown up as he has.

“He sets an example. No wonder so many of us, gay and everyone else, admire & treasure him as a hero.

“What a goal he’s scored!” the Lord of the Rings star praised earnestly.

The announcement, which Jake made shortly after entering the profession, makes him Britain’s first male professional footballer to disclose that they are gay since Justin Fashanu back in 1990.

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His bravery has seen him showered with praise by celebrities including ITV presenter Phillip Schofield, who came out himself back in 2020.

“There will be a time, I hope, when this isn’t our second news story, and we won’t need to do it because it won’t matter and it won’t make the headlines,” the 60-year-old This Morning host declared on the show.

He added: “Jake Daniels has hurled the world forward by being incredibly brave. Hopefully that won’t be needed in the future.

“Hats off to Jake, we think you’re amazing.

“What’s important now, and this may be very naive, I think he will have an amazing amount of support, help and care within his own football community.

“That his football mates, his football club, are all enormously supportive.”

Phillip described the culture within football as that of a “tribal family” and expressed his hope that Jake was embraced by it, instead of bullied.

The presenter went on: “What you want now is for that tribal family now to show an enormous amount of support.

“Of course, there’s always going to be sort of ribbing people and having a go, but this is the time to say, ‘Let’s not go for him on the pitch’.”

Meanwhile Simon Thomas also expressed affection and concern for Jake on the Jeremy Vine show this week, cautioning that his bravery had come at a very young age.

He stated: “[Homosexuality] in football shouldn’t be significant in 2022, yet it is.

“I just think this is a hugely significant moment for football. I hope that it will be the start of a new era.

“We’ve got to remember that this guy is only 17, he’s only turned professional this season.

“It’s an awful lot of weight on his shoulders and I hope he has the right support around him from teammates, which it sounds like he absolutely has, the management structure of Blackpool, and the wider football community as well.”

His words came after Jake chose to share his sexuality with the world in a statement given on Sky Sports.

“It’s been quite a crazy year,” he announced, before reeling off his recent achievements with pride.

“I’m 17, I’ve signed a professional contract, I’ve scored 30 goals this season and I’ve just made my first-team debut in the Championship,” he continued, before adding: “And now I have decided to come out.”

It seems as though things are going well so far, as he revealed jubilantly: “Now it’s out, and people know. Now I can just live my life how I want to and you know what? It’s been incredible.”

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