Ex-footballer Pat Nevin played with ‘gay star who came out decades later’

Former footballer Pat Nevin said he played alongside a gay player who did not come out until decades later.

Tragic Justin Fashanu remains the only high profile player who came out as gay during their playing career.

Nevin admitted he was disappointed an ex-teammate did not feel able to reveal their true identity, adding that he often received homophobic slurs due to his love of culture and the shunning the heavy drinking lifestyle many footballers of his era enjoyed.

The ex-Chelsea and Everton star said: "Football and society was very very ignorant at the time when I played. I wouldn't just blame football, it was anyone who was different.

"I was never offended by all that stuff (homophobia). I was offended that they thought I would be offended.

"I knew one player I played with who was gay. I didn’t find out until 30 years later. He was gay, he was gay at the time.

"I got on great with him, not close buddies but I got on great with him. He was quite cultured in some ways but maybe slightly distant.

"He’s the only footballer in all the years I played who after he left wrote a letter to me to thank me for being helpful.

"At the time I just thought: ‘That was really nice, a nice letter,’ and then moved on.

"When I was told that, I get it now. I was an outsider but I was always fighting for the outsider."

Despite a lack of gay players in English football, former Scottish international Nevin is hopeful it won't be long before players feel comfortable coming out.

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He admitted he is disappointed that perceptions do not appear to have changed much in the last 30 years.

Nevin said: "When someone does come out in football, it's probably going to be alright.

"I have a deep suspicion people will move on.

"It doesn't matter. It does matter if it's a big thing for them to come out but I don't think the reaction will be as bad as many feel it will be.

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"There will still be people in the stands, I don't know if it will be a big number or a small number, and there will still be people online being homophobic unfortunately."

Meanwhile, Nevin revealed he used to get fined on pre-season for not being drunk with his football pals.

The 57-year-old played for Everton from 1988 to 1992, who had a renowned drinking culture at the time, but he largely rejected big drinking sessions.

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He said: "At Everton I got fined for not being drunk on the pre-season tour. It happened twice in my career and it's absolutely extraordinary when you think about it.

"That was probably my biggest problem with football.

"At Everton there had been quite a big drinking culture and it led partially to a lot of problems.

"That was one of the big problems. It led to different cliques. You can only be successful for a short while doing that but trust me, it will not last."

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Despite the reputations of Liverpool and Everton as some of the heaviest drinkers in the football world, it was in fact their Merseyside counterparts Tranmere Rovers who put on the wildest Christmas parties.

Nevin played for the club later in his career and claims their drinking antics would put their more illustrious neighbours in the shade, and the players would start planning it during the summer at pre-season training.

He said: "When I arrived at Tranmere, one of the lads came up to me and instead of welcoming me to the club, he said: 'Right, how do you want to pay for the Christmas party?'

"And I was liked: ‘How about hello?’ The build up was phenomenal.

"It was carnage. The parties were infamous. It was the one time I knew I really had to go along.

"It's hilarious to think Liverpool's and Everton's were tame in comparison."

The Accidental Footballer by Pat Nevin is on sale now published by Monoray at £20 hardback (octopusbooks.co.uk.)

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