The Justin Fashanu All-stars

NEARLY TWENTY YEARS ago, Justin Fashanu became the first professional footballer to come out as gay.

Now a football team has been named after the man labelled a gay icon and a black hero. The Justin Fashanu All-Stars was formed by the Justin Campaign, which promotes the inclusion of openly gay players in football. The team will play its first fixtures in Yorkshire at the Gay Football Supporters Network five-a-side tournament.

Justin Fashanu had been abandoned by his Nigerian father, then adopted at the age of six by white foster parents in Norfolk. Aged just 17 Justin joined Norwich City, quickly becoming a superstar. He scored the Goal of the Season against Liverpool in 1980 and 19 goals in 40 games during the 1980/81 campaign. But his long downward spiral started in 1981 when he became Britain's first black player to achieve a £1 million transfer. At Nottingham Forest Justin suffered under the intensely homophobic Brian Clough, who suspended him when he discovered Fashanu's sexuality. A serious knee injury stymied his career in 1983; by 1986, Justin was forced to retire.

In 1990, Justin publicly came out. The black newspaper The Voice condemned him as "an affront to the black community... damaging... pathetic and unforgiveable" and his own brother, footballer John Fashanu, denounced him as an outcast.

Attempts to resuscitate his career proved abortive and he tried his luck in the US and Canada. It was in Maryland that a 17-year-old attempted to blackmail him with allegations of sexual assault. Fashanu returned to the UK; he was found hanged in a garage in east London.

More than 10 years after his death, Justin Fashanu remains the only professional footballer to come out as gay.

Elsewhere - Team named after Justin Fashanu

Elsewhere - The Justin Campaign

Elsewhere - Obituary: Justin Fashanu

Elsewhere - Fashanu: a rising star who faded too soon

Elsewhere - Justin Fashanu: Homophobia Destroyed Him


Wonder Man said...

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