Australian soccer star Josh Cavallo came out Wednesday, making him the only openly gay male professional soccer player in the world.
Cavallo, a midfielder for Adelaide United, came out in a video posted on his club’s social media accounts.
“Growing up, I always felt the need to hide because I was ashamed,” Cavallo said. “I was ashamed that I could never do what I loved, which was being gay.
“All I want is to play soccer and be treated the same,” he continued. “I’m tired of trying my best and living this double life. It’s exhausting. I don’t want anyone to go through that.
Aside from Cavallo, there are few openly gay male athletes currently playing in major sports leagues around the world.
In June, Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib announced he was gay, making him the first openly gay active NFL player. Nashville Predators player Luke Prokop became the first openly gay active NHL player this month after coming out in July.
Former Leeds United player, American Robbie Rogers, came out as gay in 2013 when he announced his retirement. Shortly after, Rogers played for L.A. Galaxy, becoming the first openly gay male athlete to play in a U.S. professional league.
Cavallo revealed that he had already come out privately to his family, friends and teammates, and that he thought they would now treat him differently. Instead, he said the reaction has been “unbelievable.”
Adelaide United head coach Carl Veart said outside the club’s stadium Wednesday that he couldn’t be prouder of Cavallo.
“We want our players to be themselves, to express themselves and be the best person they can be,” Veart said. “Not just on the field, but off the field as well.
Cavallo wrote in a post on Twitter that he knows there are other LGBTQ players who “live in silence.”
“I hope to show others who identify as LGBTQ+ that they are welcome in the soccer community by showing who I am,” he wrote. “As soccer continues to expand, I want to help grow the game even more and make other players in my situation feel like they’re not alone.”