England’s only openly gay professional footballer Jake Daniels, 18, reveals he’s found his ‘soulmate’ – after 46-year-old partner slid into his Instagram DMs
England’s only openly gay professional football player has revealed how he connected with his ‘soulmate’ on Instagram.
Jake Daniels, 18, became the first sporting star in the top four men’s divisions to publicly come out in 32 years last May.
Earlier this month, the footballer appeared on Rylan Clark’s How To Be A Man podcast – where he discussed how he wanted to tackle the scourge of homophobia in the sport.
In the days that followed the announcement, Jake explained how he went on holiday with some friends and took a break from social media.
But when he returned, the Championship star says he had received 20,000 supportive DMs from fans.
Around this time, the star says his now partner Mark, 46, also sent him a message on Instagram.
He said: ‘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 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”, At the end, [I] asked something like “Is there anything else I can do for you?” I knew what my motive was!’
Later that night, Jake says he FaceTimed Mark for the first time before they met up in Blackpool for an official date.
Although Jake has tried to keep his new relationship out of the spotlight, the star says Mark is ‘definitely [his] soulmate’.
When asked by Rylan if he was content in his new life, Jake replied: ‘I couldn’t be [any happier].’
Elsewhere in the podcast, Jake said he wouldn’t have ‘felt safe’ playing in the World Cup in Qatar – where homosexuality is illegal.
The star also revealed that the first people he came out to were his mother and sister.
Jake explained how he wrote his loved ones a letter – but asked them not to tell anyone about his sexuality ‘because of the job [he is] in’.
He ended the letter by writing: ‘I’d like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not.’
The star also told Rylan that he worried he would be ‘judged’ by his Blackpool teammates.
He added: ‘The thing is, I don’t have any attraction to lads my age, but obviously no one will believe me.’
Shortly after coming out last year, Jake told Sky News: ‘I just processed and processed every day about how I want to do it, when I want to do it and I feel like now is just the right time – you know I feel like I’m ready to tell people about my story.
‘I want people to know the real me and lying all the time just isn’t what I wanted to do.
‘It has been a struggle but now I do feel I am ready to be myself and be free and just be confident with it all.’
Daniels, described as ‘an inspiration to us all’ by then prime minister Boris Johnson, is the first Briton in the men’s professional game to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990 at the age of 29.
He told Sky Sports: ‘It’s been quite a crazy year. 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, coming off the bench against Peterborough.
‘And now I have decided to come out. Everything has happened at once but it feels right. When this season started, I just wanted to prove myself as a player. I think I have.
‘So this was the one last thing in my head that I knew I needed to do. 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.’