Zander Murray becomes first openly gay player in Scottish football since Justin Fashanu; Striker, who plays in the Lowland League, wants to be inspiration for others; Blackpool's Jake Daniels became UK's first active male professional footballer to come out as gay earlier this year
Tuesday 20 September 2022 17:14, UK
Zander Murray has become the first Scottish senior footballer to come out as gay.
Murray, who is a striker for Lowland League side Gala Fairydean Rovers, has praised his team-mates for their support and says he hopes his announcement "helps other players who are struggling".
He becomes the first openly gay player in Scottish football since Justin Fashanu, who played for Airdrie and Hearts in the 1990s, and wants to be a role model for others, much like Blackpool's Jake Daniels and Scottish referees Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson.
"It feels like the weight of the world is now off my shoulders," Murray said.
"The reason I have decided to do this now is two-fold. Firstly, I was on holiday recently at a pride event and I have always been that closeted never to go to these things but I loved it.
"The vibe was brilliant and everyone was just being free and happy and it was great to just be me.
"I also want to help other players who are struggling with this as it isn't easy for men, especially footballers to deal with."
Murray, 30, had spells with Airdrie and Motherwell during his younger playing days and says he knew he was "different for many years".
"It can be difficult and you can feel very alone," he added. "But with other people in the game coming out it's been amazing."
Gala Fairydean Rovers play in the Lowland League, one step below League Two. Murray holds the club's record for goals scored in a single season.
"The lads at the club have been so supportive," he said. "I have a really strong bond with everyone at the club and I have been blown away by the support.
"Before coming out you think people will turn against you and you think the worst. It's been lovely how much support I have had.
"I have done lots of research and I always keep an eye on media outlets to see if there are any platforms for young gay male footballers for support but there are none.
"I would really like to look into and see what support can be given to other players to inspire them.
"In recent years Jake Daniels has come out and then Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson who are both referees have done the same.
"Of course there are gay footballers in our game and I have had lots of players get in touch saying they have read my post and they can't believe how strong I am by doing this."
He added: "Hopefully the SFA [Scottish Football Association] can work with other leagues and partners and look at support and drive how we help other players.
"That support is greatly needed in the men's game.
"Women's football is another ball game. They are completely diverse and open and this is something the men's game should aspire to be."
Following Murray's announcement, Gala Fairydean Rovers chairperson Ryan Cass said: "Everyone at the club is fully supportive of Zander and we are delighted for him that he feels comfortable to come out.
"Zander has shown great bravery and he has the club's full support and I am certain that he will get the support he deserves from all across the football family in Scotland."
Blackpool's Jake Daniels became the first UK's first active male professional footballer to come out as gay earlier this year, and told his story to Sky Sports. Read here.