Liam Davis, a midfielder for the mid-tier U.K. football club Gainsborough Trinity, announced that he's a proud, partnered gay man in a lengthy interview with the Lincolnshire Echo newspaper, published Saturday.
The 23-year-old told the paper, which is based in the club's hometown of Gainsborough, on the west end of Lincolnshire, England, that he was inspired to be open about his sexuality after retired German professional footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger came out last week.
Davis said he's been out to friends and family since 2009, and was out to some teammates when he played on other teams lower in the league. He only came out to his Trinity teammates this summer, but said he hasn't experienced any backlash since deciding to be open.
"I wouldn’t be talking about this if it was not for all the support I have got from my friends, family and my partner," Davis told the Echo. "Crucially if it was not for the great support I’ve had from past teammates and my current club. Gainsborough have been brilliant and the way they have treated me has really given me the confidence to talk more about this and feel comfortable playing my football."
Davis also owns a restaurant in Cleethopres, England, with his partner. He acknowledged that customers probably know the two men are a couple, but that isn't why they patronize the establishment.
"People do not walk out of our restaurant because of that," explained Davis. "They come in for some good food and good service. It should be the same in football. I should be able to picked, or not picked, on merit, not because of my sexuality. You are there to play and do a good job for your team."
Davis admits that he's ahead of any trend toward out gay footballers, but he says he hopes to prove that one can be gay and still compete in the sport one loves.
"The support I have received hopefully shows that most clubs will be the same," Davis said. "Gainsborough is a good club, but they are not any different to a lot of teams in how they look after their players. I don’t think many changing rooms would make outcast of teammates. I think it is becoming more socially acceptable."