Thursday, 16 August 2007

"A Bloody Poof"

I've got a new football hero.

Justin Fashanu.

I was just surfing the net trying to decide what to post about tonight when I started reading about him. And I have to confess to being very moved by his story.

For any of you who don't know, Justin, brother of John, was a talented man. He hit the headlines in 1981 when he transferred to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest, becoming the first £1 million black footballer. All the more miraculous as he came from a disrupted background, the product of a Barnado's children's home.

His relationship with Clough was not a happy one, however, and the manager bullied him because he believed he was gay, referring to him as "a bloody poof". When he finally 'came out' he was vilified by the football world, the black community and even his own brother John.

He stood proud in the face of the world, declaring in a television interview, "People need to know the truth. It's okay to allow yourself to express your sexuality"

Sadly it wasn't "okay". His life spiralled downwards, ending in tragedy following allegations of a sexual assault against a 17 year old youth. Justin hung himself in his garage in April 1998.

I think there are few things sadder in life than a person reaching such depths of despair and emotional loneliness that they can see no way to end the pain other than to take their own life.

I'd like to tell you now that his death was not in vain. That his legacy was a sea change in the world of sport and in particular the world of football. That being gay does not preclude you from being a world class footballer or result in you being abused. But it would not be true.

It is estimated that 1 in 10 men are gay. How many gay premiership footballers can you name?


Rest in peace Justin.

1 comment:

Jungle VIP said...

Steve Coppel maybe
Graham Le'Soux
Sol Cambell

Is all i can think of. But, of course, there will be lots more.

All those healthy male bodies around you all the time.....compelling for a "Poof"

Nice post GB.....on the money I'd say
I still think Cloughie's cool though....and, like you and me, a product of his generation, upbringing and culture