A gay Premier League footballer has admitted that he is afraid to come out in a tortured open letter.
The star, who is not yet ready to reveal his identity, says that only a few family members and a “select group” of friends are aware of his sexuality.
He confirms that neither his teammates nor his manager know that he is gay, but hopes that he can tell them “one day”.
In a letter the Justin Fashanu Foundation – who supports the player – wrote to The Sun, he wrote: “I’m gay. Even writing that in this letter is a big step for me.
“How does it feel to have to live like this? Day after day it can be an absolute nightmare. And it affects my mental health more and more.
“I feel trapped and my fear of revealing the truth about who I am will only make things worse.”
There are currently no openly gay or bisexual players in the UK. Watford striker Troy Deeney recently speculated that each team has at least one.
He said, “As soon as the first one comes out, there will be loads.”
The FA has offered “full support” while the PFA said they “welcome the opportunity to work with any player who chooses to come out”.
Former Norwich player Justin Fashanu committed suicide in 1998 at the age of 37, eight years after he was the first gay player in the UK to come out.
His niece Amal Fashanu founded the Justin Fashanu Foundation last year on behalf of her uncle. The goal is to eradicate homophobia and racism in football and to raise psychological problems.
Amal, 31, said: “I founded the foundation because I don’t want what happened to Justin to happen to another player.
“You can end up in a soccer bubble where you can’t be who you are, and that’s excruciating.
She added: “This can really damage a person’s mental health. You can feel lonely and scared and end up doing things you might regret, which could lead to tragedy.
“You can trust me enough to open up and I can find the right help.”