Actor John Barrowman has revealed he “knows they are gay footballers out there” and urged them to step out of the shadows and “make history” by being open about their sexuality.
The Torchwood star said that anyone worried being gay would affect their career is “living in another century”.
Speaking to The Sun, the 52-year-old said he discussed sexuality in the world of football while spending time with manager Harry Redknapp during the 2018 series of I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here.
Barrowman said: “I had this conversation with Harry who apparently had never met a gay man before he met me in the jungle, which I find hard to believe as I know they are gay footballers out there.”
He added: “If people are fearful of coming out because of their job, they’re stupid because there are so many ways and people around to protect them now and if they come out, whether they’re sportsman or they are in Hollywood.”
There have been very few high-profile gay footballers in the upper echelons of British football.
The late Justin Fashanu came out in 1990 and said his playing career suffered almost immediately.
Former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger came out after his retirement from the professional game in 2014, while Robbie Rogers also came out after retiring in 2013, but returned to the sport until injuries forced him to quit in 2017.
Barrowman said he believes figures in sport can make an enormous positive impact if they choose to come out.
He said: “Think of how many young lives you will save and change if you as a prominent person in your field whether it be sports, in television and business.
“If you come out and be your true self and show that you can be successful and can live your life and not worry about stereotype, you are going to help maybe that one kid who is struggling and possibly on the verge of doing something drastic in their life because they feel they are shut down and can’t be who they are.”
He added that anyone who does come out publicly has the chance to “make history”.
Barrowman came third on I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, which was won by Redknapp.
He has since presented several editions of This Morning, both with campmate Emily Atack and The Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes.