'I know seven gay Premier League footballers', says Justin Fashanu's niece

Amal Fashanu, the daughter of footballer John Fashanu and the niece of the late footballer Justin Fashanu, has said she knows of at least seven gay footballers within the Premier League. Describing the world of football as "extremely dark" she mentioned the difficulties that remain for players when it comes to being open about their sexuality. "Let's be real. I actually know, myself, of seven," she told BBC Radio 5 Live. When the host asked if she was referring to closeted gay footballers, she replied, "Yes, yes, in the premiership. Seven gay footballers." The presenter, who fronted BBC3 documentary Britain's Gay Footballers back in 2012, continued, "I'm not going to out them, because I would never do that. You don't know what do, because you want to be honest and say the whole truth - even to help them out - but you can't do that." Amal's late uncle Justin Fashanu was the first English professional footballer to come out publicly back in 1990. After years of personal struggles, he committed suicide in 1998. He had been the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee in 1981. JUSTIN FASHANU Speaking of the strain placed on the families of footballers, Fashanu said she had a "horrible" time growing up, as she fended off rumours and questions from her peers about both her father and her late uncle. "You have to create such a big wall, you don't even know what point to bring the wall down," she explained. "You have to protect yourself." Speaking particularly in light of the recent conviction of Sunderland player Adam Johnson, Fashanu said, "I don't think people realise how much families of footballers actually suffer, to be honest. I think they think because they have the money and they can buy themselves handbags. Remember money can't buy all these types of things. I had to share my dad." Amal's father John Fashanu played for teams including Crystal Palace, Millwall and Aston Villa, through the 1980s and 1990s, and also appeared on the hit ITV show Gladiators. More stories Gay footballers would be treated with respect, insists Premier League boss I didn't want the embarrassment: John Fashanu gave gay brother £75k to stay in the closet