Successful British entrepreneur Thomas Beattie is also known for his football career in Europe, North America and Asia. Having left football due to a serious injury, Beattie finally came to terms with his identity by coming out as gay. Speaking out about his sexuality and football, Beattie hopes that more young players can find the strength to be open about their sexuality.
The 33-year-old former footballer from Yorkshire revealed his story on ESPN. He spoke about his football career and how he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality.
At the age of 10, Beattie had joined Hull City youth academy where he played until he joined the Hull City youth team. Beattie recalled that when his team went to a strip club, he did not find the outing enjoyable. He felt "strange" and "detached" but could not understand why he had those feelings.
He also claimed that he had started losing passion for the sport while playing in the United Kingdom. When he went to Limestone College in South Carolina, United States on a football scholarship, he regained love for the sport.
He was the first player at the university to win the Adidas All-American Athlete award. He was also inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2018. After graduation, he played in Norway and Scotland. However, he felt out of place in Europe. Beattie returned to North America, this time playing for the Canadian Soccer League. He was awarded the SL Rookie of the Year Award.
He finally went to Singapore where he played for Hougang United FC before signing with Warrior FC. With Warrior FC, Beattie won the Singapore Premier League. He was forced to retire in 2015 after he sustained a serious head injury.
Speaking to Advocate, Beattie said that football kept him distracted. He used to train and play to keep his mind from pondering over his identity.
Beattie pointed out that there are very few homosexual role models in the sport. Justin Fashanu took his life eight years after he became the first professional British footballer to come out as gay in 1990. American footballer Robbie Rogers came out in 2013. German midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger retired the year after he came out in 2014.
Beattie revealed that even today, players use homosexual slurs in changing rooms and even on the field. He pointed out that society forces people to believe that sexuality and masculinity are linked. As a young footballer, he felt that he had to choose either his sexuality or his sport.
Grateful that he is surrounded by supportive people, Beattie offered support to queer players around the world. Sharing his story during Pride Month, Beattie hopes that the sport will become more inclusive with greater representation of the LGBTQ+ community.