A soccer legend is being honored from beyond the grace.
The late UK striker Justin Fashanu is being added to the UK National Football Museum Hall of Fame. According to SkySports, the honor is to signify the impact Fashanu had after coming out and the successful career he had before it.
“I think he wouldn’t believe it himself,” said Fashanu’s niece to SkySports, “I know he would be extremely honoured, and I know that I am extremely honoured and so is my family. I guess for Justin this would be a great moment and I think it’s a pivotal moment when we are finally recognizing who Justin Fashanu was, not only as the openly gay footballer, but also as a very talented footballer and the first million-pound black player in England.”
Justin Fashanu was Britain’s first and only openly gay male soccer star. The former Norwhich City and Nottingham Forest striker was the brother of former Wimbledon and Aston Villa striker John Fashanu. Together, the brothers worked within the world of professional soccer. Unfortunately, Justin later took his own life in 1998. John then shared in 2018 that he was part of the problem. You see, John paid Justin £75,000 to stay in the closet.
It’s a huge week for LGBT sport in the UK as, on Wednesday, Justin Fashanu will be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.
Fashanu was Britain’s first out gay male footballer, as well as the first £1m black player in England. pic.twitter.com/OmQD9VLYoe
— Jack Murley (@jack_murley) February 17, 2020
“It was a lack of education,” John Fashanu told ITV’s Good Morning Britain at the time. “I make it very clear I was a monster to Justin then. I paid him £75,000 not to say that he was gay. I was looking at the situation around us and my mother had cancer and was dying, and the rest of the family couldn’t understand the situation. We didn’t know what to do, the best thing I thought to do was to keep it quiet.”
But again, his being in the closet and later coming out wasn’t the only important part of his athletic career. Fashanu was the first black player to successfully demand a £1 million transfer fee when he moved from Norwich to Forest in 1981. In addition, he played for almost 20 clubs until his retirement in 1997. Fashanu was a commendable athlete for many reasons, and now his legacy is being honored by the league he worked in.