Former Hull City youth player Thomas Beattie has announced he is gay – becoming just the second British professional footballer to come out.
Beattie follows compatriot Justin Fashanu plus Thomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers as players who have played professionally in Britian in confirming their homosexuality having enjoyed a professional career of over 10 years in the USA, Canada and Singapore.
The 33-year-old from Goole in Yorkshire admits it is not a step he would have felt comfortable taking during his playing days.
“I never thought about coming out whilst playing,” he told Advocate.
“I literally felt like I had to sacrifice one of the two: who I am, or the sport I loved before I could remember.
“I used football as a form of escapism and in many ways it saved me, until I reached the point in life where there was some personal growth. I was standing still on that front.
“Society [told] me masculinity is linked to sexuality and so being an athlete playing a physical sport felt like a huge contradiction.”
After failing to make the grade at Hull, Beattie moved to the US aged 19 to play football on a scholarship.
And he admits he is still coming to terms with coming out.
“It’s still a new and current process for me to be honest,” he said. “I told close friends and family three months ago, which was when I decided to embark on the journey of speaking openly about it.
“As an athlete it was something that was unspoken about, which is why I want to share my story in hopes that there will eventually be more support for people in a similar situation.
“I recently started to tell some of my old team mates who have been amazing and treated me not a single ounce differently. They know I’m the same lad I was 10 minutes before telling them so that’s been refreshing.”
Beattie, who established himself in the reserves at Hull but failed to break into the first team, played for Forest City London, London City, Ottawa Fury, Hougang United and Warriors professionally as an attacking midfielder.