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Justin Fashanu to be Honoured in New Biography

August 30, 2011

Next year will see the release of a biography of former Norwich City player Justin Fashanu, whose career as the only openly gay footballer of his time is the inspiration for movements like Red Card Homophobia and the Justin Campaign, named in his honour.

Canadian writer and former broadcast journalist Nick Baker is behind the biography, and hopes to bring the story of Fashanu’s life to a new generation of football fans, particularly to highlight his bravery in the face of an overwhelmingly homophobic football culture. “The reason I am writing the book is because I believe it is long overdue,” Baker says. “Justin was not only Britain’s first million pound black footballer but also the first professional football player in the world to disclose he was gay. The decision to tell the world was incredibly brave, especially in an era that was predominantly homophobic.”

After making the courageous and unprecedented decision to come out in 1990, Justin Fashanu faced constant discrimination from both football crowds and the people who were to shape his career – teammates and managers alike. His brother, John, publicly criticised Justin’s sexuality, and he was unable to secure a full-time contract with a football club after his decision, despite his fitness and form. Justin committed suicide in 1998 following allegations of sexual assault.

Though Justin’s life and career ended tragically and prematurely, he left behind a legacy that continues to inspire those who believe in equal rights and challenge the homophobia that dominates football. As Baker says, “Today, more than 15 years later other professional sports people are finally following his lead, like the rugby player Gareth Thomas and cricketer Steven Davies, but it was Justin who took the initial stand. That should never be forgotten.” Gareth Thomas has agreed to write the foreword for the biography.

Baker remains in the research stages of his book. He says, “I would really love to interview anyone who knew Justin in Norwich back then – old friends, teammates, coaching staff, acquaintances outside the club – anyone who knew him in some way.” He encourages anyone who can contribute to the making of this important book to email him at nick@makebelievemedia.com.

– I.G.

Source: Norwich Evening News 24

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