As a young child, all I ever desired to be was a footballer.
I wasn’t interested in succeeding at school.
Instead of doing homework, every spare minute I had was spent with a ball.
In the end it paid off.
But nonetheless I still have to pinch myself when I come to an end and reach play weekly in front of tens and thousands of people.
However there is something which sets me apart from the majority of the other players in the Premier League.
I am gay.
Even writing that down in this letter is a large step for me personally.
But only my family members and a select band of friends know about my sexuality. I don’t feel prepared to share it with my team or my manager.
That’s hard. I spend nearly all of my life with your guys and when we walk out on the pitch we have been a team.
But still, something inside me makes it impossible for me to be open with them about how precisely I feel.
I dearly hope 1 day soon I am able to.
I’ve known since I was about 19 that I was gay. How does it feel having to live like this?
Day-to-day, it may be an absolute nightmare.
And it is affecting my mental health more and more.
I feel trapped and my fear is that disclosing the truth in what I am will only make things worse.
So, although my heart frequently tells me I have to do it my head always says the same: “Why risk it all?”
I am fortunate to earn a very good wage. I have a good car, a wardrobe filled with designer clothes and are able to afford to buy such a thing I want for my family and friends.
But one thing I’m missing is companionship.
I am at an age where I would like to be in a relationship.
But because of the job I do the amount of trust in having a long-term partner has to be extremely high.
So, at the moment, I avoid relationships at all.
I dearly hope I will soon meet a person who I think I am able to trust enough.
The truth is I simply don’t think football is ready yet for a person to come out.
The game will have to make radical changes in order for me to feel able to make that step. The Professional Footballers Association say they truly are ready to help a player ahead out.
And they’ve said they’ll offer counselling and support to anybody who needs it.
This is missing the purpose. If I want a counsellor I can go and book a session with one whenever I’d like. What those running the overall game need to do is educate fans, players, managers, agents, club owners — basically everybody involved in the game.
If I was to produce that step I’d desire to know that I would be supported at each step of my journey. Right now, I don’t feel I would be.
I wish I didn’t need certainly to live my entire life in this kind of way.
But the truth is there is still a huge amount of prejudice in football.
There are countless times I’ve heard homophobic chants and comments from supporters fond of no one in particular.
Strangely it doesn’t really bother me during the matches. I am too focused on playing.
It’s when I get back on the plane or the coach and I have time and energy to think that it gets to me.
As things stand my plan is to transport on playing for as long as I’m able to and then turn out when I’ve retired.
It was great last month to see Thomas Beattie raise his hand and admit to being gay. But the fact he had to hold back until retirement tells you all that’s necessary to know.
Footballers are still too scared to help make the step while they are playing.For yesteryear year I have already been getting support from the Justin Fashanu Foundation, perhaps not least to handle the toll this is all wearing my mental health.
It is hard to place into words how much the Foundation has helped. It has made me feel supported and understood along with giving me the confidence to be much more open and honest with myself particularly.
Without that support I really don’t know where I’d be now.
I know it might reach the point where I find it impossible to keep living a lie.
If I do my plan is to retire early and come out. I may be wasting years of a lucrative career. But you can’t put a cost on your reassurance.
And I don’t want to live like this forever.