Justinus Soni Fashanu was an English footballer who played for a variety of clubs between 1978 and 1997. He was known by his early clubs to be gay, and came out publicly later in his career, becoming the first professional footballer to be openly gay. In 2020 he will be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Hall of Fame.
About Justin Fashanu in brief
Justinus Soni Fashanu was an English footballer who played for a variety of clubs between 1978 and 1997. He was known by his early clubs to be gay, and came out publicly later in his career, becoming the first professional footballer to be openly gay. He became the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee, with his transfer from Norwich City to Nottingham Forest in 1981. After moving to the United States, in 1998 he was questioned by police when a seventeen-year-old boy accused him of sexual assault. He fled to England fearing he would not get a fair trial because of his homosexuality, and killed himself in London in May 1998. His suicide note stated that the sex was consensual. In 2020 he will be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Hall of Fame. He is the son of a Nigerian barrister living in the UK and a Guyanese nurse named Pearl. When his parents split up, he and his younger brother John were sent to a Barnardo’s care home. He and John were fostered by Alf and Betty Jackson and were brought up in Shropham, Norfolk. He excelled at boxing as a youth, and was rumoured at one time to be pursuing a professional boxing career instead of his footballing career.
While at Norwich City he was also capped six times for England at under-21 level, although the anticipated call-up to the senior side ultimately never happened. He scored 19 league goals in the 1980-81 season, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Canaries from being relegated. In December 1982, he was sold to Forest’s local rivals Notts County for £150,000. He then moved to Brighton & Hove Albion for £115,000 in June 1985. He finished his career in the US with Los Angeles Heat and then to Canada with the Edmonton Brickmen and Hamilton Steelers. He returned to England in 1989 and tried to resurrect his top level playing career, joining Manchester City on 23 October 1991. He later joined Ipswich Town, having a trial with West Ham United, but on 20 November, after barely a month after joining the club, he joined the semi-coach Toronto Blizzard. He died in a car crash in November 1998. He had a son, John, who was born in April 2000. He played for Norwich City, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Leyton Orient and Toronto Blizzard before joining Toronto Blizzard in 1991.