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Following the second retirement of Robbie Rogers from football, it got us thinking, why aren’t there more openly gay footballers out there? So I thought I’d investigate further. Robbie Rogers first retired two weeks after being released by Leeds United in February 2013, aged 25. Two weeks later he announced on his blog that he was gay. This made him the first openly gay footballer in the UK since Justin Fashanu.

Rogers wrote, “I’m a soccer player, I’m Christian, and I’m gay. Those are things that people might say wouldn’t go well together. But my family raised me to be an individual and to stand up for what I believe in.”

Rogers later stated he retired to avoid the media speculation regarding his sexuality and the scrutiny of the fans. His retirement lasted two months and he returned in April 2013 to play for LA Galaxy. He made his decision after speaking in front of a crowd of 500 at an LGBT youth event in Portland, Oregon, during which he “seriously felt like a coward”. Rogers told USA TODAY Sports, “These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I’m 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?”

In 1967, homosexuality in the United Kingdom was decriminalised, leading to a more liberal public attitude. There are lots of openly gay politicians and entertainers who remained elected and popular with little or no criticism or comment on their sexuality.

However, there has been a distinct lack of openly gay men in football. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, rumours in the press or joking between fans and players and even hostile homophobic abuse, have been common within the game.

The most famous gay footballer is Justin Fashanu, who played for Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Notts County and Brighton and Hove Albion. Fashanu agreed to come out in The Sun as an exclusive story in October 1990, they ran the classy headline “£1M Footballer: I Am Gay”. In the article he claimed to have had an affair with a British MP. The Sun dragged out the tale with titillating stories of sexual encounters with unnamed MPs, football players and pop stars, which, he claims, were largely untrue.

Not only did Justin Fashanu receive vile chants from visiting fans regarding his race he was also now getting abuse about his sexuality.

In March 1998, Maryland, USA, a 17-year-old lad claimed he had been sexually assaulted after a night of drinking. Homosexual acts were illegal in Maryland at this time and the boy claimed he awoke to a sexual act being performed on him without his permission. Fashanu then fled to England before he could be arrested. On the morning of 3rd May 1998, Justin Fashanu was found hanged in a deserted lock up garage in Shoreditch, London. In his suicide note, he denied the charges, stating that the sex was consensual, and that he had fled to England because he felt he could not get a fair trial because of his homosexuality, and he added: “I realised that I had already been presumed guilty. I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family.”

Other footballers have come out as gay after retirement, perhaps the most renown being Thomas Hitzlsperger, who played in the premiership for Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton.

In other sports within the UK people are ‘coming out’ all the time, like Tom Daley (diver) Nicola Adams (boxer), Gareth Thomas (rugby player), Keegan Hirst (rugby player), Steven Davies (cricket), Casey Stoney (women’s football), Clare Balding (jockey/presenter) and Joh Amaechi (NBA- Orlando Magic).

In international sport there is Martina Navaratilova (tennis), Ian Thorpe (swimming), Liz Carmouche (MMA), Michael Sam (NFL- Dallas Cowboys), Jason Collins (NBA- New Jersey Nets), Ryan O’ Callaghan (NFL- Kansa City Chiefs) and Abby Wambach (Football).

Football has to be one of the most popular spectator sports, so is it easier to come out in sports that are less popular? In America there are a few NFL and NBA stars that have come out as gay. In fact, Jason Collins sought advice from Robbie Rogers on how to come out to the sporting world.

Is it down to Justin Fashanu’s experiences that other footballers have felt the need to hide their sexuality? Is the fear of being chanted at by rival fans? Or the fear of fake stories appearing in the press? Whatever it is, surely in these times, if a footballer is gay, most fans can see passed the sexuality? Could it even be lucrative for a Premier League footballer to come out as gay, surely lots of companies would be queuing up to use them in endorsements?

Paul Pogba recently said that openly gay footballers WOULD receive respect in the Premier League. Apparently, players are in the know who is gay and who is not. Surely if one person comes out then others will follow in support? One thing is for sure, a person’s sexuality doesn’t change them as a person and certainly doesn’t alter their ability to play football. Maybe in the next couple of years footballers will have no fear about coming out as gay. The FA has identified Football v Homophobia as its chosen campaign, partnering with the Justin campaign, to educate widely on homophobia.

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Andy Robertson – From Amateur to Anfield



Another 3 points gained under the Anfield lights on Saturday evening and another outstanding performance from one of Liverpool’s star men. Nope we’re not talking about Salah, Mane Mane or Bobby Firmino because it’s all about Robbo, Andy Robertson.
The left back who has made the position his own and is quite rightly receiving the plaudits he deserves.

Andy Robertson

Just 5 years ago Andy Robertson was playing for Scottish 3rd Division side Queens Park, a club in which he signed for after having been released by Celtic for being too small earlier in his career.
His move to Dundee United saw him instantly catch the eye of many north of the border. A renewed contract was agreed within just weeks of his debut and was followed with being PFA’s “Scotland Young Player of the Year” and a subsequent place in the PFA “Scotland Team of the Year” for the 2013-14 Scottish Premiership season.

Andy Robertson
All of this convinced Hull City to swoop with a near £3m bid to get their man, United accepted and the left back was on his way to the EPL.
3 seasons with Hull under the stewardship of former Man Utd stalwart Steve Bruce allowed him to gain what is deemed acceptable experience in England and it was Liverpool who won the race for his signature.
An absolute bargain at a reported £8m and his dream debut season is showing no signs of slowing down.

He has even earned the approval of Kop legend Stevie G. He told BT Sport: “He’s done terrifically well since coming in and the fans have taken to him. It’s not just about Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres, the top players that come, the fans love someone who gives 100 per cent.”
“He’s come in and he’s a very humble kid and gives it his all every game. To be fair to the kid. He’s been excellent.”
His lung bursting closing down run vs Man City made him a social media sensation but for those who have watched him for the past few years this was nothing out of the ordinary.
International recognition has obviously come his way and with 20 caps already under his belt, his partnership with Kieran Tierney gives The Tartan Army a strong looking left side for years to come.
He’s has never given up and has taken every chance that has come his way.
One of the signings of the 2017/18 season has undoubtedly been Liverpool’s Number 26.

Andy Robertson

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Nick Pope – From League Two to Russia as Englands most in form keeper?



Some pretty daft things are said in the wake of a team winning promotion. Players who, in the depths of winter, you were berating for not being able to pass a ball two yards are suddenly going to be providing the names of your first born. You claim that you believed in the team all along, when in reality, after a home defeat by Dagenham & Redbridge, you had sworn never to go again. Most stupidly of all however, you claim that your young loanee goalkeeper will go to the next World Cup. Or at least that’s what I did after Bury’s promotion on the last day of the 2014/15 season. While little Thomas Daniel has yet to show his face, the latter statement may actually come true as Gareth Southgate takes a look at Burnley’s Nick Pope in his latest England squad.

Nick joined Bury in January 2015, on loan from Charlton Athletic. Our promotion campaign wasn’t running particularly smoothly. The day before Pope’s debut we sat 9th in League Two, two points outside the play off places and nine points off the automatic promotion places. We’d lost nine games, shipped as many goals as Tranmere, who went on to be relegated and the aforementioned Dagenham & Redbridge had managed to do the double over us as they fought at the wrong end of the table. Three goalkeepers had already worn the ‘keeper’s jersey before Pope. Shwan Jalal, Rob Lainton and Scott Loach had tried and failed to provide the solid goalkeeper David Flitcroft was looking for.

Pope’s debut was a pretty forgettable home draw against Wycombe Wanderers. He conceded a goal, which was to be rarity during Nick’s time with Bury. In the following 21 games, Pope conceded only nine goals, won fifteen games and lost only four. Pope exuded a calmness rarely sighted in the fourth tier of English football, instilling a new confidence in a defence which had underperformed for most the season. Come the final day of the season, Bury needed to win to be promoted. Away at Tranmere, who had already been relegated, the nerves showed. Pope was called upon to make crucial saves to keep the scores level. In the 61st minute however, Tom Soares wrote himself into Bury folklore and at the end of game, Bury found themselves in League One.

The following season, Pope was back with parent club Charlton. He began and ended the season as Charlton’s first choice goalkeeper, not playing all the games as Charlton preferred Stephen Henderson through the middle part of the season. This season was to be one of disappointment however, as Charlton were relegated to League One. Rather than drop down to League One with Charlton, Pope’s career took a different path. The winners of the Championship, Burnley, decided to take Nick onto the Premier League, signing him on a three year deal in July 2016. Pope played only cup matches in his first season with the Clarets. Even when Tom Heaton missed Premier League matches, 37 year old former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson was the preferred option.

With Robinson retiring in July of 2017 and a further injury to Tom Heaton opening the door, the 2017/18 season has seen Pope grasp his opportunity with both hands. To date Pope has kept ten clean sheets in twenty seven Premier League appearances, working behind a defence containing fellow England hopefuls James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.

Could Pope go from League Two to a World Cup in three years? Despite being arguably England’s most in-form goalkeeper heading into the tournament the chances are probably slim. Without any injuries, Gareth Southgate will take Joe Hart, Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford. Despite being woefully out of form, going into a tournament without Joe Hart would be seen as a mistake by most, given his experience, even if he is just there to lend a helping hand to the number one. Butland doesn’t seem to be losing any favour from being embroiled in Stoke’s relegation battle while Pickford could claim to be Everton’s best player of this season. However one mistake, a loss of form or injury could see Pope take the place of any of these three.

Back at Bury, nearly three years have passed since that rainy day promotion at Tranmere and we have never properly replaced Nick Pope. Since that day twelve (!) different goalkeepers have been used, seven during the 2015/16 season alone. As we head towards relegation back to League Two, the summer would be that little bit more bearable knowing that an ex – Shaker was on the biggest stage of them all. All the best Nick, lad. UTS.

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How good is your FA Cup Knowledge?




LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 27: The FA Cup Trophy is seen prior to The Emirates FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

How good is your FA Cup knowledge?

FA Cup Quiz

Test your FA Cup knowledge with our quiz to mark the occasion.

Leaderboard: FA Cup Quiz

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