Gay footballer Jakub Jankto says coming out has made him a better player

Eight months after his groundbreaking coming out, the Czech Republic midfielder says, "it wasn't a mistake".

Gay footballer Jakub Jankto photographed from the shoulders up. He is shirtless and looks into the distance while holding a jersey in his hands.
Image: @jakubjanktojr via Instagram

In February 2023, Jakub Jankto became the only active international male footballer to come out as gay, disclosing his sexuality publicly in a video posted on social media. Eight months on, the Czech Republic star has reflected on the experience in a new interview on the BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast.

“Everyone is speaking about you! I knew it would be like that for the first two, three weeks, but I needed time to myself to breathe for a little bit, to recover,” he told Jack Murley.

“When you receive thousands, maybe millions, of messages from people saying they appreciate me and thank me, it makes me really happy, and the people were amazing.

“But it does put pressure on me. It’s not easy to be the first guy at my level who says: ‘Yeah, I’m gay.'”


Speaking about his journey to coming out, the Cagliari midfielder said, “I was 13 or 14 years old when I knew that something was… not unnatural, but different”.

“…As a kid, you don’t think too much about it. But when I tried my first relationship with a girlfriend, it wasn’t like it was with a boy, you know?

“And then when I got into professional football teams, being gay was still seen as ‘not normal’, and football is still a little bit homophobic, I think.”

The 27-year-old hid his identity for much of his career – throughout his previous stints in Serie A, La Liga and the Czech First League. However, he eventually realised that not being true to himself was hindering his progress.

“Playing professional football is a dream of mine, and I’m always searching for ways to get better,” Jankto explained.

“And coming out is what I needed to do to get better.”

Thinking back to the 44-second video that changed his life, the footballer remembered, “I wasn’t scared when I did it…It was a huge moment for me – but after six, seven months, I can say it wasn’t a mistake.

“If I could do it again, I definitely would, because it helped myself and I think it helped many, many people. It was a huge moment for all footballers, and many professional footballers at many clubs wrote to me, thanking me for it.

“I think it set a good, positive example for everybody, and now I’m really happy that I can play without hiding or being scared.”


While he has faced some abusive comments on social media, generally, the response has been positive, and Jakub Jankto concluded: “I’m definitely proud of myself, because if I can get through this situation, I can go through every situation in the rest of my life.”

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