AUSTRALIAN footballer Josh Cavallo has come out as gay – saying he is ‘tired of this double life’.
He becomes the only currently active male professional in the world to do so.
In an emotional video on Adelaide United’s social media page, the courageous 21-year-old said: “I’m a footballer and I’m gay.
“All I want to do is play football and be treated equally.
“I’m tired of trying to perform at the best of your ability and to live this double life, it’s exhausting.
“I thought that people would think of me differently when they found out. They would start treating me differently.
“They would start saying bad things about me or making fun out of me. That’s not the case. If anything, you would earn more respect from people.”
Cavallo also wrote a lengthy statement on his own personal Twitter account.
The left-back from Melbourne wrote: “I have been fighting my sexuality for over six years now, and I’m glad I can put that to rest.
“For the people that know me personally, you’ll know I’m a private person. Growing up, I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed.
“Ashamed I would never be able to do what I loved and be gay. Hiding who I truly am, to pursue a dream I always wished for as a kid, to play football and be treated equally never felt like a reality.
“Being a gay closeted footballer, I’ve had to learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer.
“Growing up being gay and playing football were just two worlds that hadn’t crossed paths before.
“I’ve lived my life assuming that this was a topic never to be spoken about.”
Australia Under-20 international Cavallo received widespread adulation for his announcement video, with plenty saying he will ‘save lives’ by bravely revealing his sexuality.
Adelaide United said: “We stand alongside @JoshuaCavallo for proudly being true to himself and will continue to love and support him as a member of our beautifully diverse family.”
Football Australia wrote: “Football Australia wishes to commend Josh’s bravery to come out as the only openly gay player in the A-League men competition.
“His courage to be open with himself and share that part with others is inspiring and will hopefully inspire more footballers to do the same in the future.”
Sydney FC added: “Well done for your courage today, @JoshuaCavallo. You’ll be a shining light for many future generations of footballers.”
Cavallo joins the brave group of professional footballers to come out as gay.
Although in the women’s game it is far more common, only a select number on the men’s side have taken the public step.
Justin Fashanu came out in October 1990 but was subjected to horrific homophobic abuse and took his own life in 1998.
Former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger made his announcement in 2014, a year after ex-Leeds, LA Galaxy and USA star Robbie Rogers.
Last year, it emerged two Prem stars had come out to close family and friends.
But in an open letter to the FA, one said he was “too scared” to do so publicly.
And earlier this month, SunSport revealed a gay Premier League footballer has had therapy because he is so frightened of coming out, telling friends: “I will be crucified.”
The ace said he has sought professional psychological help amid fears of how rival fans will react.
Iconic footballing names have come out in support of Cavallo.
Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique said on Twitter: “Hey @JoshuaCavallo, I don’t have the pleasure to know you personally but I want to thank you for this step that you take.
“The world of football is far behind and you are helping us move forward.”
Pique’s Barca team-mate Griezmann – whose on loan at Atletico Madrid this season – also reached out to support the left-back.
The frenchman tweeted: “Proud of you @JoshuaCavallo.”
England legend Gary Lineker says he is ‘full of admiration’ for Cavallo.
Lineker said: “It’s absurd that coming out is a brave thing to do in football.
“It is though, and I’m full of admiration for Josh for treading a path hopefully many others will follow.
“I’m sure the overwhelming majority of football lovers will support him and erase the fear others may have.”
Arsenal say Cavallo’s ‘strength and bravery’ has made the ‘world of football a better place.’
The Gunners tweeted: “Thank you @JoshuaCavallo for your strength and bravery…
“You are an inspiration to millions.
“Everyone deserves the right to be themselves. The world of football is a better place today, because of you.”