BRITISH football could be about to welcome its first openly gay male professional for almost 30 years and the main question that comes to mind is ‘why has it taken so long?’

Justin Fashanu remains the only player in this country to have ever come out while still playing back in 1990 and he tragically hanged himself eight years later, which may go some way to answering the question.

But society’s attitude to the LGBT+ community has changed enormously since the 1990s and men’s football is slowly dragging itself into the 21st century in terms of how it deals with the issue.

The Football Association marched at Pride in London for the first time on Saturday while they have also backed Stonewall's rainbow laces campaign in recent years.

Former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger is one of the most high-profile figures to come out as gay in recent times.

But the ex-Germany international had already retired before making his sexuality public.

Now a man who claims to play for a Championship club says he is set to publicly declare his homosexuality in the near future.

'The Gay Footballer' Twitter account, which was created last Friday, already has almost 20,00 followers at the time of writing.

“I'm a professional footballer, playing for a club in the @SkyBetChamp," he tweeted on Friday.

“I will be revealing my identity soon, but I am a proud gay man, hoping to break the mould. I am under the age of 23, and today I came out to my family. Soon, I will come out publicly.”

A statement posted from the account on Sunday said the player's identity would be revealed once he has prepared himself for the announcement.

“This afternoon I requested a meeting with both my manager and the club chairman," the statement read.

“At this meeting I revealed to both gentlemen that I am a homosexual man, I explained that I had only yesterday come out to my family.

“I sought advice from both men regarding the fact that I not only want to, but will, come out publicly as a proud, confident gay professional footballer.

“As it currently stands, once I have taken the time to give full consideration to how and when I am to make it public, a press conference will be organised by the club, with invitations to be made in due course to both local and national press."

South Wales Argus:

The user has so far refused to respond to media enquiries and there is no way of knowing if he is genuine.

Assuming it isn’t a hoax, it’s a development that should be welcomed by the football authorities.

They should be hugely embarrassed that not one of the thousands of players plying their trade up and down the country feels comfortable to come out.

It’s a huge stain on football’s claim that it is all-inclusive and leaves the men’s game lagging behind almost every other major sport.

Gay footballers clearly have genuine fears of how the game, and fans, would respond.

But the sooner one brave individual – or, even better, a group of players – decides to go public, the better for the sport as a whole.

Once the initial media attention dies down, you would hope that players being open about their sexuality – if they choose to do so – would become the norm.

Asked about the issue at the launch of last season’s Rainbow Laces campaign, defender Mickey Demetriou told The Sun that a gay player would be welcomed at Newport County AFC.

“The football family will back and support any player who is open about his sexuality,” said Demetriou.

“It is going to take a bit of time for players to feel comfortable [but] at Newport it doesn’t matter if someone is gay or not – we’d be comfortable with it in our changing room.”

The main problem, as former players Sol Campbell and Graeme Le Saux (neither of whom happen to be gay) will tell you, could be the reaction of fans.

Brighton & Hove Albion supporters have been subjected to homophobic abuse from fans of rival clubs based purely on the fact that the city is known for its large LGBT community.

There will always be a few idiots who cannot help but expose their ignorance, but the vast majority of fans should be trusted to behave like decent human beings.

In the week that the prodigiously talented Megan Rapinoe, an outspoken advocate of gay rights, lifted the Women's World Cup as well as the golden boot and golden ball for best player of the tournament it’s time for men’s football to finally break the taboo. In fact, it's long overdue.