It has been well flagged at this point that two Premier League stars, including one England international, are preparing to come out as gay. It is certain they will receive better treatment than the first professional footballer in the top flight to come out.
Justin Fashanu burst onto the scene at Norwich in the late 70s, scoring frequently and winning the Goal of the Season award for the 1979/80 season.
He earned a transfer to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest. It was there that things went downhill. An ardent socialist, Clough's left wing tendencies did not extend into the social sphere, and he was disturbed by reports that Fashanu was visiting gay bars.
Clough berated himself in his autobiography over his treatment of Fashanu, recalling one exchange.
Where do you go if you want a loaf of bread?' I asked him. 'A baker's, I suppose.' 'Where do you go if you want a leg of lamb?' 'A butcher's.' 'So why do you keep going to that bloody poofs' club?
Fashanu's career deteriorated quickly. He drifted from club to club, never staying for very long and never scoring many goals.
His cause wasn't helped by his brother John's lack of understanding.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, John Fashanu says he has regrets over the way he behaved when Justin told him he was gay. He asmits he handled the situation in an ignorant manner.
He says that he begged not to come out or go to the newspapers with the story.
I begged him, I threatened him, I did everything I could possibly do to try and stop him coming out.
I gave him the money because I didn’t want the embarrassment for me or my family. Had he come out now, it would be a different ball game.
There wouldn’t be an issue, but there was then. Things are different now. Now he’d be hailed a hero.
Justin Fashanu came out in 1990.
Fashanu said that the episode was like a 'Hiroshima or a Nagasaki on my family' and claimed his mother died from the stress caused by the news.
At the time, he condemned Justin and even went so far as to say he wouldn't get changed in the same room as him.
I’ve never spoken about these things before because I was stamped a homophobe. But things have changed and I make it very clear: I was wrong. It was ignorance on my behalf. I didn’t understand him. I was trying to protect my family and I was worried about the effect on my career.
Fashanu says he has had a change of heart since the issue and called on people to not react the same way he did when he heard the news.
If these young men feel it is the right time to come out and announce they are homosexual, please don’t anybody victimise them.
Please be careful with words, don’t let it lead to the destruction of two men in their prime. I didn’t have that wisdom 20 years ago and it led to the destruction of my late brother Justin.
Read the interview here.