A Twitter account run by a person claiming to be a gay professional football player has been deleted just hours before the individual was due to reveal their identity and publicly come out.
The account 'The Gay Footballer' (@FootballerGay) was set up earlier this month and had attracted almost 50,000 followers and national news coverage before being deleted on Tuesday (24 July).
The anonymous person behind the account had previously announced their intention to hold a public press conference and reveal their identity to the world on Wednesday (24 July), before changing their Twitter bio just hours before the planned announcement to read "I thought I was stronger. I was wrong.”
The individual denied the account was a hoax, tweeting before the account was deleted for good: “Call me all the names under the sun, belittle me and ridicule me, a lot will, and I can't change that, but I'm not strong enough to do this.
"Just remember that I've got feelings, without coming out I can't convince anybody otherwise, but this isn't a hoax. I wouldn't do that."
Upon being set up earlier this month, the person behind the 'Gay Footballer' claimed to be an English Football League Championship under the age of 23 who would be "revealing [their] identity soon" after coming out to friends and family.
The account later claimed to have had meetings with their club, telling their growing number of followers that officials were supportive of their decision to come out.
Despite many believing the account to be fake or a hoax, the tweets attracted national attention and the support of high profile footballers including former England striker Gary Linker.
There are currently no openly gay footballers in the English professional leagues, and the late Justin Fashanu remains the only player to have come out publicly while still playing the game.
The Norwich City and Nottingham Forest star, who was first black footballer to command a £1million transfer fee, came out in 1990 before taking his own life in 1998 at the age of 37.