Home / Featured / ‘I paid my brother £75,000 to stop him admitting he was gay.’ – John Fashanu

‘I paid my brother £75,000 to stop him admitting he was gay.’ – John Fashanu

Former football star John Fashanu has admitted paying his gay brother Justin £75,000 in a failed bid to get him to stay in the closet.

The former Wimbledon striker said he “begged and threatened” his brother not to “embarrass” his family by being open about his sexuality.

Justin, who played for Norwich and Nottingham Forest, nonetheless gave a newspaper interview in 1990 claiming to have had an affair with a married Tory MP. In doing so, he became the UK’s first openly gay footballer, but suffered abuse from fans and jibes from fellow players as a result.

Justin hanged himself, aged 37, in 1998 after being accused of sexual assault. No male footballer since has come out while still playing the sport professionally.

John Fashanu (left) with Justin in 1994, four years after Justin gave a newspaper interview confirming he was homosexual
John Fashanu (left) with Justin in 1994, four years after Justin gave a newspaper interview confirming he was homosexual

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, John Fashanu, 53, spoke of his “sadness and regrets” over the death of his brother, who was a year older than him. His comments followed reports that two high profile footballers, including an England player, plan to declare their homosexuality with the support of their clubs and the Football Association.

Fashanu said of his decision to pay his brother £75,000 to keep quiet: “I didn’t understand him. I was trying to protect my family and I was worried about the effect on my career. In the process, I lost my brother and I am very sad about that. He committed suicide because he was so distraught the world would not accept a black man who was homosexual.”

Fashanu said that at that time, the public perceived homosexuality to be “an abomination” and “a taboo”. He told the newspaper that his brother’s openness about his sexuality caused confusion and animosity towards him and his family.

“Things are different now. Now he’d be hailed a hero,” he said.

Justin Fashanu
Justin Fashanu

Three years ago, Fashanu had said in an interview with TalkSPORT that he did not believe Justin was really gay, describing his brother as a publicity-seeker who made up stories to get money and attention. He said of football: “It’s a macho man’s game and I think there are reasons why we haven’t had any gay footballers come out. I don’t believe there will be. I’m not saying there aren’t some there, but I can tell you in twenty years of playing all my matches, I have never come across a gay footballer.”

However, in the interview with the Mirror, he urged people to be understanding if players do go public about their homosexuality. “If these young men feel it is the right time to come out and announce they are homosexual, please don’t anybody victimize them,” he said.

“Please be careful with words, don’t let it lead to the destruction of men in their prime.”


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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4 comments

  1. This Justin Fashanu has got to be the bravest Nigerian gay man ever. Well, right behind Bisi Alimi, that is. To come out in the prime of your football career, damning every consequence and understanding how hostile the gay clime is? Wow. It’s just really sad how bad his life eventually turned out. Who knows, if his family had rallied behind him, if John had come around to this his understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community then, perhaps he might have lived.
    Then again, it’s never too late to realize a mistake and do what you can to shine a light on the fact that many others are making the same mistake.

  2. For 75000 pounds, boy, I’d get very comfy in my closet o. lol

  3. Hmmm…please I’m gay. Who will pay that amount or more so I wouldn’t come out of the closet… Need that money ASAP…lol

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