John Fashanu struggled to understand brother Justin’s sexuality: ‘I was an idiot’

John Fashanu has said he was an “idiot” for struggling to accept his footballer brother Justin’s sexuality.

John Fashanu (left) and brother Justin Fashanu (right). (GB News/ Getty/ Mark Leech)



Justin Fashanu was an English footballer who made history by becoming the first professional footballer to come out as gay in 1990.

He was hounded by the homophobic British tabloid press, and tragically died by suicide in 1998.

Speaking to GB News, his brother John, a retired footballer, said he credits his daughter Amal Fashanu with helping him to understand Justin’s sexuality.

“I think that Amal was paramount in actually making me see the light and making the changes,” he said.

“Because I assure you, I was an idiot. I honestly wouldn’t say I was homophobic. I didn’t understand. That’s the key word. Yeah, not understanding. But that’s now 30 years ago.”

Following his death, Amal Fashanu created the Justin Fashanu Foundation, aiming to combat homophobia in football.

John Fashanu added: “Having a family member, Justin, who was gay, really opened my eyes. You know it may be too late, in his case it’s too late. But, nevertheless, we have to make sure that we don’t let that situation happen again.”

Openly LGBTQ+ footballers remain a rarity, but recently, there has been some progress.

Last year, Adelaide United left-back Josh Cavallo, 21, became world’s first out gay active top-flight male football player since Fashanu. Amal Fashanu praised his decision and said he has made football “a safer space”.

Earlier this year, Jake Daniels became the first UK pro-footballer to come out in more than 30 years, and he said at the time that “being gay or bi or queer” in men’s football is “still a taboo” subject.

He said that he believes homophobia in football came down to “how a lot of footballers want to be known for their masculinity”, and that many people still wrongly “see being gay as being weak” – “something you can be picked on for on the football field”. 

In September, 30-year-old Gala Fairydean Rovers striker Zander Murray became the first-ever senior Scottish male footballer to come out as gay.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (, or Mind on 0300 123 3393 ( ​

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.


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