Jakub Jankto the Czech mate of West Ham stars Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal has made a groundbreaking statement.
The international teammate of West Ham duo Soucek and Coufal has become the first professional player in football’s major European leagues to come out as gay.
Former West Ham star Thomas Hitzlsperger came out as gay after his retirement from football.
And one ex West Ham player, Patrice Evra, has persistently claimed – as recently as today – that certain Hammers players during his time at the club declared they would want gay players ‘kicked out’ (The Times).
Even if true, it is unlikely any players from Evra’s short time at West Ham – during David Moyes’ first spell in charge – remain at the club.
Well now a player who has shared the national team changing room with West Ham duo Soucek and Coufal for the last five years has become the first current international in men’s football to publicly come out as gay.
Jankto the Czech mate of West Ham stars Soucek and Coufal has made a groundbreaking statement.
Midfielder Jankto, who plays for Sparta Prague – who are owned West Ham’s Czech billionaire stakeholder Daniel Kretinsky – says he “no longer wants to hide”.
“Like everybody else, I have my strengths, I have my weaknesses, I have a family, I have my friends,” Jankto, pictured on the left of the two pictures in this story with blonde hair, said on Twitter.
“I have a job that I have been doing as best as I can for years with seriousness, with professionalism and passion.”
He added: “Like everybody else, I also want to live my life in freedom without fears, without prejudice, without violence but with love.
“I am homosexual and I no longer want to hide myself.”
Last year, Blackpool’s Jake Daniels became the first professional player in the UK men’s game for more than 30 years to come out while still playing.
Prior to Daniels, former West Ham player Justin Fashanu was the last active men’s professional footballer in the UK to come out during his playing career.
In a statement, West Ham co-owner Kretinsky’s Czech club Sparta Prague said Jankto had openly discussed his sexual orientation with the club’s management, coach and team-mates “some time ago”.
“Everything else concerns his personal life,” the club added.
“No further comment. No further questions. You have our support. Live your life, Jakub.”
Former West Ham and Germany midfielder Hitzlsperger, 40, tweeted his support, saying: “What a player! What a personality! Well done Jakub for speaking up and leading the way for others.”