By Alex Miller
20 March 2011
The former Liverpool and Sweden defender Glenn Hysen has revealed his pride at the decision by his 20 year-old son, Anton, to become the first professional Swedish footballer to come out as gay – and how he hopes it might contribute to gay Premier League players feeling comfortable enough to be open about their own sexuality.
Hysen Jnr, 20, was born in Liverpool when his father played on Merseyside, and now plays for Utsiktens, a Swedish lower-division team who are managed by his father. He is believed to be the first openly gay professional player in Europe since Justin Fashanu.
Speaking exclusively to sportingintelligence, Glenn Hysen said he had discussed the issue of his son revealing his sexuality for several years and that he fully supported the decision.
‘I’m very proud of Anton and he has known for a long time that I would back him up, no problem at all,’ he said. ‘If Anton was an actor, his sexuality wouldn’t be a big deal at all, but because he is a footballer it is big news. Hopefully Anton’s decision will prompt other footballers to admit they are gay and I think that would be great for the game.
‘I don’t expect 10-15 Premiership footballers to now instantly admit they are gay, but it would be great if at least one did. I don’t know [personally] of any gay Premiership footballers, but I am 100 per cent sure there must be some.
‘I hope Anton’s future is not affected negatively by his sexuality. He is lucky to be at a club with a good dressing room. He is getting stick, but the players are doing it for laughs, nothing bad.
‘He will have to cope with stick from fans when the new Swedish season starts, but after a few games I’m sure it will die down to zero. In any case Anton can handle it, sport is a tough atmosphere to survive in and you need to be tough. He will be fine’.
Another football figure who has voiced the view that Anton Hysen’s coming out might help smooth the way for an English-based player to do the same is the chairman of the FA’s anti-homophobia advisory group, Peter Clayton, who says he thinks it could happen ‘in the next two years or so, and hopefully before’.
Clayton, 59, the FA’s only openly gay councillor, believes some clubs and agents are still advising gay players to stay in the closet.
‘They’re afraid of the potential commercial ramifications,’ he says. ‘But the FA have already thought carefully about how a gay player can be supported and the Professional Footballers’ Association will be hugely supportive, too.’
On a separate Liverpool issue, Glenn Hysen also threw his weight behind Kenny Dalglish becoming Liverpool’s new permanent manager. Hysen played under ‘King Kenny’ the last time the Merseyside club won the English title, back in 1990.
‘Kenny is the right man. If he becomes the permanent manager, everyone connected with the club will be happy. Since Kenny has come in you can see a huge difference with the players – they are playing with their heads up again.
‘He will need the club’s owners to support him in the transfer market though. Liverpool lack pace down both flanks – they need someone like Aaron Lennon, a great player. With pace and the right service, Suarez and Carroll are going to be an absolutely fantastic pairing up front’.
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