‘I never thought about coming out whilst playing’: Former Hull youth team player Thomas Beattie announces he is gay… and is only the fourth male professional footballer who has played in Britain to come out
- Former professional footballer Thomas Beattie has come out as gay
- Beattie, from Yorkshire, played for Hull City’s youth team and played in America
- He is just the fourth pro footballer to have played in Britain to come out
- Justin Fashanu, Thomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers are the previous three
Former professional footballer Thomas Beattie has announced he is gay and says he felt like he couldn’t come out whilst playing.
Beattie, from Goole in Yorkshire, played for Hull City’s youth team before playing professional for more than 10 years in the United States, Canada and Singapore.
Now residing in Singapore exploring business ventures, Beattie is only the fourth footballer – after Justin Fashanu, Thomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers – who has played in Britain to come out as gay and admitted he did not feel comfortable coming out during his professional career.
Former pro footballer and Hull City youth team player Thomas Beattie has come out as gay
Former LA Galaxy and US national team player Robbie Rogers came out seven years ago
‘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.’
Beattie moved to the United States at the age of 19 after his youth career with Hull, and played in the US on a football scholarship.
He is also only the second professional soccer player – after Fashanu in 1990 – from the UK to come out and says he is still coming to terms with it.
Beattie, the second British professional footballer to come out, is still coming to terms with it
Former Norwich player Justin Fashanu was the first British footballer to come out in 1990
‘It’s still a new and current process for me to be honest,’ he says of coming out. ‘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.’
Watford captain Troy Deeney claims there is probably one gay player in every football team
Watford captain Troy Deeney said as recently as last week that he believes there is ‘probably one gay player in every football team.’
Talking on the BBC Podcast, Grounded with Louis Theroux, the 31-year-old said: ‘I would go on record saying that there is probably one gay or bi person in every football team. They’re there, they are 100% there.
‘I think people that are gay or from that community definitely are very worried about having to shoulder the responsibility of being the first. I think once the first comes out, there would be loads.’