Find out who Justin Fashanu was, the 1st football player to declare himself gay


The time came when Brian Clough lost his temper. He had convinced Nottingham Forest’s board to pay £1m (£7.5m at current prices) in a forward, a fortune for the early 1980s.

The legendary English coach had given shirt 9 to the 19-year-old boy. But Justin Fashanu, a player who years later would publicly reveal himself as a homosexual, didn’t score goals.

“If you want to buy meat, go to the butcher. If you want bread, find it at the bakery. So why go to these pederast clubs?” little Nottingham. Clough then decided to send him to train away from the other athletes in the professional squad.

Fashanu was the first name in a high-profile league to declare his homosexuality while still a professional. This happened in 1990, at age 29. He was already at the end of his career because of a persistent knee injury. For 100,000 pounds sterling (BRL 750,000 at the current price), he sold the interview in which he spoke about the matter to the tabloid The Sun.

Last week, Australian player Josh Cavallo declared himself gay in a post on social media. Detonated an avalanche of messages of support in the world of the ball. But among the most important leagues on the planet, Fashanu remains unique.

He died at age 37, in 1998. He hung himself in the garage of his home. He was wanted by the US police as a suspect in the case of rape of a teenager. The day before, he had called Eric Hall, the agent who had brokered his conversations with The Sun, and left a message. He ensured he had a new story he could sell to the diary.

His explosion in football came in 1980, at age 18, when he played for Norwich and scored a goal against Liverpool so beautiful that he ended up voted by the BBC the best of the season. That’s what led him to Nottingham Forest, then a European force, two-time champions of the tournament now called the Champions League, to sign him.

“Clough doesn’t like me,” he confessed to friends even before he was turned away.

Was right. In the book “Provided You Don’t Kiss Me” (not released in Brazil), author Duncan Hamilton points out that the coach’s main source of exasperation with his striker was the lack of goals, not the fact that he was gay. There were only three for the club.

Justin Fashanu’s life was filled with rejections. Handed in for adoption at age four along with her younger brother, John, grew up raised in a middle-class family. The two were the only blacks in the neighborhood.

Talented and physically strong, he found himself in football. But he had a problem on the field. He didn’t know how to impose himself, he was too introverted. In the words of players who acted with him, the striker was friendly, charismatic, very polite, but these characteristics did not guarantee anything with the ball rolling.

That was never a problem for your brother. John would be much more successful in the sport. It would be in 1988 champion of the FA Cup with Wimbledon. A cast so full of unbelievable stories that it was immortalized by the nickname The Crazy Gang (The crazy gang, in English translation).

On trips already as a professional, Justin scared his co-stars. I had terrifying nightmares. He punched, smashed windows, pounded walls and screamed in his sleep. He also had to take offenses from opposing fans. Justin Fashanu was a staple for racist and homophobic 1980s fans.

“I heard a lot about being black. But the insults Justin had to endure… I honestly don’t know if he could stand it,” says full-back Viv Anderson, former teammate of Fashanu no Forest.

Shortly after being sidelined at Forest, Southampton became interested in the striker. It was a blessing for him and for Clough. Did not work. Released to Notts County, he suffered a blow to his knee in the first game of the 1983/1984 season. He was never the same player again. Pilgrimage for other teams. He was dismissed by Brighton, then in the second division, in 1987, with the argument that he was no longer physically fit to be a professional player.

Tested on five other teams. He failed all medical tests.

While still trying to get back to playing, which he eventually did, he decided to accept The Sun’s offer to talk about his sexuality.

It wasn’t the only time he received money from the diary, according to his brother. The suspicion that Justin fabricated stories to receive payments made several friends move away, as well as his family, which was a blow to the player.

“Justin is always looking for attention. When I questioned the reason for selling stories to newspapers and getting others involved, he would tell me it would put him back in the headlines,” John complained. They went seven years without talking.

The attacker decided he needed a fresh start, and this appeared on the invitation to emigrate to the United States. I would no longer play, but would teach football in Maryland, US state, in 1998.

One day, a 17-year-old boy, identified as a DJ, went to a police station to denounce the former attacker. The young man said that he went to a party at Fashanu’s house and that Fashanu would have taken advantage of his alcoholic state to have sex with him.

A couple of police officers went to Justin’s house, which was quiet, according to reports at the time. Denied having had any sexual relationship with DJ. The professor made it clear that he would have no problem passing the polygraph test, a device that records physiological reactions during an interrogation.

Justin was asked if he was gay. He said no.

Upon returning to the police station, the policeman did a search for Fashanu’s name. It turned out that he had lied about sexuality. A few hours later, he went back to the suspect’s residence. There was nobody. He had returned to the UK. A few days later, the former player killed himself.

Justin Fashanu left a note in which he said he believed it was impossible to get a fair trial in the United States — at the time, being gay in Maryland was a crime. He confirmed that he had had a relationship with the minor, but that it had been consensual and that he had been blackmailed soon after.

“The day before he committed suicide, he called me. I kept saying ‘hello. Hello!’ but nobody said anything. I thought it might be Justin, but I wasn’t sure. I thought, ‘Oh, it must be him again…’ .remembers John, who later became a TV presenter, who says he regretted not trying to get in touch with his older brother.

Justin Fashanu’s story turned into books, documentaries and series. And his legacy comes to light on the rare occasions that a football player comes out as a homosexual, as happened to Josh Cavallo.


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