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Diving champ Tom Daley urges gay footballers to come out

The world diving champion said such a move by high-profile footballers could have a hugely positive influence on young people who are struggling with opening up about their sexuality.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 22, 2017 Great Britain's Tom Daley celebrates after winning the Men's 10m plaform final during the diving competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest.  British diving star Tom Daley and filmmaker husband Dustin Lance Black revealed they are expecting their first child in a Valentine's Day Instagram post on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.  / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

British world champion diver Tom Daley has called for gay footballers to come out about their sexuality and serve as role models for young gay fans. 

Daley, who came out as gay at the age of 19, said such a move by high-profile footballers could have a hugely positive influence on young people who are struggling with opening up about their sexuality.

“It can be a really scary thing to grow up like that (feeling different) so to have someone like a footballer being open, to see that I think could be life changing for lots of young kids," said Daley at the World Championships in Gwangju.

"Once that starts to happen I can just imagine all the little kids see that and think 'oh it's ok that I'm different, I can still achieve my dreams'," he added.

Alleged gay footballer will come out before start of season

Daley’s comments come after a Twitter account allegedly belonging to a gay English Championship footballer was set up earlier this month.

“I'm a professional footballer, currently playing in The Championship. I will reveal my identity soon, but I am a PROUD gay man,” reads the profile of the account, which is named ‘The Gay Footballer’.

The latest tweet posted on the account on July 16 included a statement from the alleged footballer, in which he expressed his delight at the understanding and support he has received from his club and stated he would reveal his identity before the start of the season.

“My intention remains to go public as soon as possible, and whilst no exact date has been finalized, I am looking at going public prior to the start of the season,” reads the statement.

“With all of this in mind, not least the response from various quarters, I am more confident about the decision I have taken to place within the public domain that I am Gay and intend to continue my career as a professional footballer.”

The Gay Footballer account has garnered almost 38,000 followers since it was set up earlier this month, although it is yet to be verified and some users have pointed out that it might be a hoax.

There are currently no active professional male footballers in England who are openly gay.