Watford striker Troy Deeney claims there is probably one gay player in every football team.
Deeney believes gay footballers are worried about shouldering the responsibility of publicly coming out but feels one doing so would lead to masses following their lead.
Talking on the BBC Podcast Grounded with Louis Theroux, the 31-year-old said: “I would go on record saying that there is probably one gay or bi person in every football team. They’re there, they are 100% there.
“I think people that are gay or from that community definitely are very worried about having to shoulder the responsibility of being the first. I think once the first comes out, there would be loads.”
Deeney does not believe it would be an “issue” if a high-profile player was gay or bisexual and added: “If he come out and said it, I genuinely believe you would get in the first week at least 100 people that went ‘me too’. Just because they don’t want to be the face of it.”
Deeney, who returned to action for Watford in a friendly on Saturday ahead of the Premier League return, added: “I think there is now a bigger platform than ever to be a gay athlete of any nature.
“I also wonder, why people finish football, rugby, whatever the sport it might be, and then go ‘I am gay’… I feel like it must be a real heavy load to carry throughout all your whole sporting career.”
Former Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu, who declared he was gay in 1990 and died in 1998, remains the only openly gay male footballer in British history.
:: Grounded with Louis Theroux is available to listen to on BBC Sounds every Monday and BBC Radio 4 every Wednesday at 8pm.