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Thetford Town FC footballer Matt Morton reflects on coming out as gay

The non-league squad's now-manager hopes his story can serve as a stepping stone to even greater breakthroughs.

By Will Stroude

As the wait for a first openly gay Premier League footballer continues, others are proving there’s space for everyone in Britain’s most popular sport.

Matt Morton, who took over as manager of non-league squad Thetford Town FC last year after joining the team as a player in 2017, has opened up about his own coming out journey to help inspire other gay footballers in the game.

Speaking to Sky Sports to mark National Coming Out Day on Sunday (11 October), Morton reflected on his decision to come out to friends, family and teammates two years ago after realising he was gay.

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Tattoos & tracksuits @fathersons_ @curiositiestattoostudio

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Morton, who describes himself as “a typical alpha-male footballer – vocal, one of the lads, an established character”, says that he didn’t question his sexuality until finding himself attracted to someone in early 2018.

“It felt very surreal to me, but at the same time it felt very natural,” recalls Morton, who first came out to a close friend aged 30. 

“I didn’t have that Disney romance at any point with any of the girls that I dated and therefore everything else around me became more important.

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almost @ryannnclark 😜

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“All of my time went into football, work and friends, and therefore there was no time left. That was a good excuse for me growing up.”

Matt came out publicly on Instagram a year after telling close friends and family about his sexuality.

“Everyone was saying to me that you don’t need to announce it or explain yourself. I’m aware of that, but I wanted to own it, and say, ‘This is me, this is what I’ve realised’.

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classic grey joggers kinda day

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“It’s a lot better than it was 10 years ago, but there still needs to be activation around understanding, and events like Pride, because there’s still a long way to go.”

He adds: “For me, I’m certainly not the type of person that wants people to find out organically through conversations down the local pub or on a football pitch or anything else. I would rather own that and then I’ll have your reaction to me, or not at all.”

Thetford FC plays in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division, the fifth tier of non-league – but with LGBTQ representation in football still so minimal, Morton knows that his story can serve as a stepping stone to even bigger breakthroughs.

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“I’m acutely aware that being a player-manager coming out in the non-league scene is relatively unique. But that means you can help all the future people who want to do that by going first. That’s important to me”, he says.

“If my shoulders are broad enough to support others who then want to follow in my footsteps, then great.”

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