Brendan Rodgers said: "[This] was another real step forward, not just in football but society in general." | England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones said: "He should be congratulated, and if he encourages a rugby player in a similar situation to do it, we're thankful to that player."
Tuesday 17 May 2022 23:46, UK
Blackpool's Jake Daniels became the UK's first male professional footballer to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990 - and the world of sport was full of praise and admiration for the 17-year-old.
On Monday, Daniels told Sky Sports he felt now was the right time to tell his story at the end of a season where he scored more than 30 goals and made his professional debut in the Championship, and about the level of support he has already received from Tangerines, his team-mates and family.
He now hopes to become a role model for other players to feel comfortable enough to come out, if they want to, with people across the football world and beyond showing their support for the teenager.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, Gary Neville said he believed Daniels' decision will go down in history as an important day for English football.
"I was incredibly proud just to see a 17-year-old be able to actually do an interview of that level of quality," Neville told Sky Sports.
"I would not have been able to do that in my mid-twenties or late-twenties. What he has just done took incredible courage. We have been in dressing rooms for many, many years and that would seem like the unthinkable to announce that you are gay. I can't imagine how difficult that has been.
"It is a day of great importance for Jake and his family but also for English football. It will go down in history. It is a big, big moment for football players. It is of massive importance, this.
"I was on the PFA management committee probably 15 to 20 years ago now whereby this was a major talking point, a major issue at management committee meetings that we did not have a player comfortable enough to come out and say they were gay.
"How do we deal with this? How do we address this? The game has not dealt with this issue well at all. I think it is just about getting good with dealing with this issue from a fans' perspective."
Jamie Carragher praised Blackpool's role in supporting Jake in telling his story.
"I know the manager there, Neil Critchley," Carragher told Sky Sports. "I think it is really important, the role of the football club, if there are other players in the future, how Blackpool have gone about it.
"Certainly, Neil Critchley in that role will be a huge support mechanism for Jake and that is what he will need going forward. It looks like he has huge talent as a player and we hope he will do really well.
"I can only reiterate what Gary has said about the courage of Jake. But it is not just about Jake, it is about the football club, and I think they are an example to others of how to go about this when other players come out in the future."
Prince William, the president of the Football Association, also tweeted his backing for Daniels on Tuesday afternoon.
He wrote: "Football should be a game for everyone.
"What Jake has done takes courage and will hopefully help break down barriers that have no place in our society.
"I hope his decision to speak openly gives others the confidence to do the same."
Daniels cited Adelaide United's Josh Cavallo, the only current top-flight male professional footballer to come out as gay, as an inspiration behind his decision to speak out, a point the Australian said was a "wonderful feeling" after learning of the news.
"I want to stop and take a moment to acknowledge Jake's announcement and say how very proud I am for his bravery," he told The Guardian.
"It's a wonderful feeling knowing that my story has helped guide Jake to be his true self.
"It's touching to see the millions of people that my story has impacted and inspired around the world, and to see it help evolve the world game at all levels, is fantastic. This world and the game of football has a place for everyone. Love will always win."
Blackpool's own academy director, Ciaran Donnelly, told BBC Radio Lancashire the entire club had been "taken aback" by the positive response to Daniels' announcement.
"I called Jake last night just to see how he was, see how he was finding it and make sure he was at home with his family," he said on Tuesday morning.
"I think we're all taken aback by just how big the response has been. It's hard to prepare, because it's unchartered waters and you don't know what you're going into.
"But to see the overwhelming positivity coming through and the profile of the people who are writing comments - I saw Harry Kane write one last night and I thought 'wow, what a great thing' - so the reaction has been unbelievable.
"I'm pleased it's been like that for Jake and we'll see how that goes over the coming days and weeks, but initially what an amazing thing for him to have done and he will be feeling like it's a massive weight off his shoulders.
"The positivity coming his way will make him feel on top of the world, I'm sure."
Brendan Rodgers added his thoughts in his pre-match Leicester press conference, saying: "It was another real step forward, not just in football but society in general.
"For Jake, I'm sure he'll have woken up this morning feeling liberated and free to get on his life as he wants to. You've seen the reaction from many people around sport - football has been developing for many years and for Jake and other young people that do want to come out, hopefully this can be the start of that."
Reaction from the sporting world was not confined to football either. England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones praised Daniels and said he hoped it could provide an inspiration for rugby union, where there have been similarly few openly gay players.
"The first thing I'd do is congratulate [Daniels] for being so courageous and brave, because the first person who does it then opens up the opportunity for other people to do it," he told Sky Sports News.
"He should be congratulated, and if he encourages a rugby player in a similar situation to do it, we're thankful to that player."
DCMS committee chair Julian Knight MP added: "Jake Daniels has shown huge courage in telling his story and will be an inspiration for many other players and fans who sadly feel they can't be themselves in a game that should be for everyone. That it has taken more than three decades since the last male professional footballer in this country felt comfortable enough to do so suggests a continuing culture of homophobia in football that is horrendously out of step with modern times.
"The Committee previously called for changes to the Football Offences Act to make homophobic abuse a criminal offence. Jake's brave act can now act as a watershed moment for those in charge of the game and provide a new catalyst for driving out the prejudice faced by LGBT people on the pitch and in the stands."