John Fashanu has spoken about how he struggled with the fact that his late brother was gay.
In a candid interview on GB News, the retired footballer, 60, denied being homophobic but admitted he was “an idiot” and suffered with a lack of understanding when his brother Justin came out in October 1990.
Justin was the first pro football player to openly admit he was gay at the time. Eight years later, he tragically ended his life.
Having his say: John Fashanu has spoken about how he struggled to cope with the fact that his late brother was gay
John said his daughter, Amal, who has since founded the Justin Fashanu Foundation, was “of paramount importance” in helping him see the error of his ways.
John said on GB News on Saturday: ‘I think Amal was paramount in showing me the light and making the changes. Because I assure you, I was an idiot.
‘I honestly wouldn’t say I was homophobic. I did not understand. That’s the key word. Yes, not understanding. But that was 30 years ago now.’
Disturbingly, Justin was the first pro soccer player to openly admit he was gay. Eight years later he tragically took his life (pictured in 1981 in his Norwich kit)
Explaining why he thinks it’s vital that no one else takes their own lives like Justin, he continued, “Having a relative, Justin, who was gay really opened my eyes.
“You know it might be too late, in his case it’s too late. But we still have to make sure we don’t let that situation happen again.’
The Justin Fashanu Foundation is now campaigning to end homophobia in football and supporting a number of players who are unable to come out publicly as gay.
Amal was just 10 when her uncle took his own life in 1998, aged 37. Earlier this year, she proudly received his Hall of Fame award.
Honest: In a candid interview on GB News, the retired footballer, 60, denied being homophobic but admitted he was “an idiot” and suffered with a lack of understanding when his brother Justin came out in October 1990
“Justin was an incredible person with a very big heart,” she said.
“If he were alive now, people would be able to see that. He accepted everyone as they were, it was all about love – I miss that very much.
“He was the only one who taught me as a child to love, and to love without judgment.”
The decision to award the World Cup to Qatar has sparked criticism from some, including retired stars who have come out after quitting the sport.
Education: John said his daughter, Amal, who has since founded the Justin Fashanu Foundation, was “of the utmost importance” in helping him see the error of his ways (John and Justin pictured as children)
But ex-Wimbledon striker Fashanu, 60, said he would be saddened to see LGBTQI+ fans stay away from attending the World Cup.
Instead, he said he hoped the tournament could be an opportunity to educate Qatar about the need to change their behavior – as he has.
John, who will star in the new series Dancing of Ice, said: “The Football Association has made it very clear that if you go to Qatar you have to follow the rules and regulations.
“But that doesn’t mean that if you’re LGBT, you can’t go. I mean, I think that would be stupid.
“I hope the World Cup in Qatar will educate so many people and promote things in the right way.
“This is something that can be educational, educational for the Qatari people so that they can understand it better. So what we’re trying to do is say, “Hey, come on.” We can all get along here together.’
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Family: John said on GB News on Saturday: ‘I think Amal (pictured together) was paramount in showing me the light and making the changes. Cause I assure you, I was an idiot’