A goalkeeper of high acclaim, Neville Southall started life without a qualification to his name, but through his constant drive to succeed went on to break the appearance records for both club and country.
Neville now spends most of his time as mentor and teacher to disadvantaged children and is a very vocal political activist and LGBT supporter; judging by his tweets, Big Nev is not afraid to speak his mind.
Neville, your tweet ‘If your’re gay, straight, trans or anything else you should be able to be what you want not live a lie, without any discrimination or prejudice’ what inspired you to tweet this?
‘It came from talking to lots of different genders who all seem to have had hard journeys to get to where they want but lots of people are still on that journey. Also, the abuse people would get from being so called different is ridiculous, so I wanted all to know it does not matter what you are, only who you are.’
You say you heard lots from talking to different genders and the abuse people would suffer, what I’d like to ask is how would this abuse differ from each gender and what type of abuse was it these people suffered?
‘I think outside influences, how people related to them and were scared by how verbal people were’.
‘Outside influences’, that include the Daily Star (pictured right ) in which they attempted to speculate about the sexuality of two former Premier League stars. Do you feel such speculation is sending out a negative influence on making it harder for a top-level footballer to come out?
‘There will be a top-level footballer who comes out eventually. It can only happen two ways I think, one they will feel they want to and have the support they need or because of the tabloid press who will publish shit about them. He will have to either beat them to it or face a load of abuse through the press’.
Something the tabloid press haven’t been as fast to jump on though is the rise in LGBT fan groups. A lot of professional football teams have though been quite vocal in their support for LGBT fans groups, but some of the comments from other fans has been questioning why the need for an exclusive fan group based on sexuality. Why do you think inclusion groups, such as Marching out Together (Leeds United) and Proud Terriers (Huddersfield Town) are vitally important to accept of LGBT fans and players?
‘I think we should view fans as fans. I did not care about who they were or what they were if they supported the team. I would like to see more LGBT football played before games on rainbow laces days and have a concert night making it a full day, that way not just box ticking.
I honestly believe after talking to the LGBT community they and football have to talk and mix more. We must remember all humans are unique and communities must come together and have a proper discussion about moving forward. The more LGBT people are around football then the fear and prejudices will start to go.
I have met some great people on twitter from the LGBT community who have shown me kindness and patience when they did not need to. When the first gay footballer comes out it will be historic, when the 100th comes out it will be normal’.
Today though whether playing in a standard FA league or the GFSN (Gay Football Supporters Network) league, the Yorkshire Terriers and many other teams across the GFSN are getting the name of the clubs out there and are bring people back into the game. While this is only happening in small areas of the country at the minute as Neville said above ‘the LGBT community they and football have to talk and mix more’ and slowly but surely we are.