Gary Lineker insists he if full of admiration for Josh Cavallo after he became the first professional male footballer in the world to be out.
The versatile Adelaide United star released a lengthy and emotional clip on social media saying he has been ‘hiding who he is’ and ‘living a double life’.
And taking to Twitter, former England striker and Match of the Day presenter Lineker said he is hopeful Cavallo’s actions will ‘erase the fear others may have’.
Gary Lineker (L) has led praise for Josh Cavallo (R) after he came out as the world’s first openly gay male professional footballer
‘It’s absurd that coming out is a brave thing to do in football,’ the former Tottenham and Barcelona star tweeted. ‘It is though, and I’m full of admiration for Josh for treading a path hopefully many others will follow.
‘I’m sure the overwhelming majority of football lovers will support him and erase the fear others may have.’
Barcelona and ex-Spain centre-back Pique also heaped praise for Cavallo, thanking him personally for his heartfelt video.
‘Hey @JoshuaCavallo, I don’t have the pleasure to know you personally but I want to thank you for this step that you take.
‘The world of football is far behind and you are helping us move forward.’
Pique’s ex-Barcelona team-mate Antoine Griezmann meanwhile simply tweeted: ‘Proud of you @JoshuaCavallo,’ followed by a fist and heart emoji.
Cavallo, 21, who has also played for fellow A-League side Western United and third-tier outfit Melbourne City NPL in Australia, said in his video: ‘There is something personal that I need to share with everyone. I am a footballer and I am gay.
‘Growing up I always felt the need to hide myself because I was ashamed – ashamed I would never be able to do what I love and be gay.
‘Coming out to my loved ones, my peers, friends, team-mates, and coaches has been incredible. The support I have received has been immense.
‘I want to show people it is ok to be yourself and play football. If anything, you will earn more respect from people [by coming out].
‘I want to show all the other people who are struggling and scared that they do not need to act like something you’re not. You were meant to be yourself – not someone else.’
The versatile Adelaide United star (left) released a lengthy and emotional clip on social media
The PFA, the Premier League and the EFL were among the sporting bodies to tweet their support, while top-flight club Arsenal posted a message saying: ‘You are an inspiration to millions. Everyone deserves the right to be themselves. The world of football is a better place today, because of you.’
Arsenal Women legend Kelly Smith and current Chelsea Women striker Sam Kerr were among the gay female stars past and present to send their support.
Fans have also taken to social media to praise the one-cap Australia U20 international, who made 15 starts for Adelaide United in 2020-21.
One wrote: ‘Josh Cavallo (Australian soccer player) has come out as gay and I could not be happier.
The 21-year-old has also played for Western United and third-tier outfit Melbourne City NPL
‘So many young men will see this and see hope. So many need it. I sincerely (but perhaps naively) hope he continues to play free from abuse and homophobia.’
Others echoed those thoughts, with one posting: ‘Josh Cavallo, you are a champion. You are a pioneer.
‘It is rotten that this is still so tough, but you are breaking through barriers, paving the way for others and no doubt helping some kids get through challenging stuff with your example. Bravo.’
Meanwhile, another user added: ‘Coming out is difficult for anyone. But for someone in the public eye as a professional sports player, coming out would be unfathomably tough.
‘The courage of Josh Cavallo is immeasurable. A genuine trailblazer. Live your best life, legend.’
Another praised Cavallo and the club for their actions, stating: ‘Big news from Josh Cavallo. Very brave of him to come out.
‘Big congratulations to him and his team for standing with him. Let’s hope more players are not scared to do the say. @AdelaideUnited is a great club for standing by your player.’
Melbourne sports reporter Oliver Caffrey meanwhile praised the support Cavallo had reached from those who do not follow the highest-level professional league in Australia and New Zealanad.
‘It’s damn difficult to do on this website, but Josh Cavallo has single-handedly created extremely positive vibes on the timeline,’ he tweeted.
‘The outpouring of support, from #ALeague people or not, has been so good to see.’
Cavallo has already impacted at least one person, with a user adding: ‘Needed a good reason to come out of my current Twitter hiatus and Josh Cavallo is a damn good reason. Well done lad!!’
However, others stated that while Cavallo’s announcement was positive, it also demonstrates how far there is still to go on the matter.
‘That a professional sportsperson coming out is *still* newsworthy shows how far we have to go, despite how far we’ve already come,’ one wrote.
Another also tweeted a warning to other A-League sides, stating: ‘I want to see every single A-League Men club, comment positively about Josh Cavallo.
‘I need to see it. To not say something, is to say something.’
Cavallo came up through the ranks at Melbourne Victory and current A-league champions Melbourne City, spending time with both of their youth teams.
He then scored six goals in 54 games for the latter’s youth system before securing an A-League move to Western United in 2019 after his contract expired in June that year.
He played 10 matches for the Green and Black before signing a short contract with 2015-16 champions Adelaide United in February, and following impressive displays in midfield and at left-back, was handed a two-year contract in May.
Cavallo was then at the end of last season awarded the club’s rising star award after a successful season which saw him record two assists in 18 appearances altogether.
Adelaide United finished fifth as a club in the A-League last season, with their 39 points from 26 games seeing them qualify for the Finals series, which consists of the top six teams at the end of the regular season.
They went on to defeat Brisbane Roar in the elimination finals, a game in which Cavallo came off the bench for the final 13 minutes, but came unstuck against Sydney FC at the semi-final stage.
The new A-League season is set to start next month on 19 November.