Justin Fashanu is to be posthumously inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame later this week. Fashanu will be recognised at a ceremony on Wednesday at the museum in central Manchester. The award celebrates those who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport and comes 22 years after the former Norwich City and Nottingham Forest striker took his own life.
He died in 1998, eight turbulent years after coming out publicly in a national newspaper to declare his gay status. Fashanu’s niece Amal, who runs The Justin Fashanu Foundation, will receive the award on what would have been her uncle’s 59th birthday. The Foundation has been set up to highlight the issues of homophobia and other forms of discrimination in both grassroots football and the professional game, while also aiming to raise the participation of LGBT people in football. Amal told Sky Sports News: “I think he wouldn’t believe it himself. I know he would be extremely honoured, and I know that I am extremely honoured and so is my family. “I guess for Justin this would be a great moment and I think it’s a pivotal moment when we are finally recognising who Justin Fashanu was, not only as the openly gay footballer, but also as a very talented footballer and the first million-pound black player in England. “When I went up to the Football Museum in Manchester a few years ago, I was quite shocked to not see Justin there [in the Hall of Fame]. Maybe that’s because I’m his niece and I just think he’s amazing, but as a footballer I would have expected him to be there.” There are over 100 male players in the English Football Hall of Fame, which was launched in 2002, as well as women, managers, and teams. Amal, whose father John played for clubs including Aston Villa, Wimbledon and Millwall, feels the game is “slightly late” to recognise Justin but acknowleges that it is still difficult for players to come out publicly.