Gay players urged to go public

Berlin - German international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer expressed his desire on Wednesday for homosexual footballers to go public over their sexuality adding it would take a load off their minds.

The 24-year-old Schalke 04 star told Bunte magazine that supporters didn't care about a player's sexuality, only how he performed on the pitch.

"Yes, those who are homosexual should say so. That would take a load off their minds," said Neuer, who had an outstanding World Cup last year which saw the Germans finish third.

"And the fans would get over it quickly. What is important to them, is the performances on the pitch of the player, not his sexual preferences."

Neuer's plea is rare in football where homosexuality is regarded as a taboo subject, on several occasions Bundesliga players have spoken in the press anonymously about the difficulties they faced hiding the fact that they are homosexual.

The late English player Justin Fashanu is the highest-profile footballer to have admitted he was homosexual.

The talented striker paid for it as Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough - who had convinced the board to pay £1m for him in 1981 - did not take kindly to his revelations and constantly made fun of him, even barring him from training with the squad.

Fashanu's career floundered after his unsuccessful spell there and tragically killed himself aged 37 in May 1998.

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