Gainsborough Trinity midfielder Liam Davis says that the reaction of the club’s players and fans to his decision to speak out about his sexuality has been heartwarming.
The 23-year old tweeted his support for former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who announced he is gay shortly after retiring from football last week.
Although Davis came out five years ago, the topic of his sexuality was never really broached outside of the dressing room until his recent proclamation of support for the German international.
Since then, he has been at the centre of a media scrum, something which Davis - who co-owns and runs a café with his partner in Cleethorpes - admits has been unexpected.
“I’m totally taken aback. I expected a bit of local media interest at most because we’re in non-league, but to have the Times, BBC, Sky Sports News and everyone calling me is very unexpected.”
“The most difficult part has been fitting it all in. Talking about it is absolutely fine, because people are interested, but it’s tough to find the time.”
“It’s not like I’m a professional footballer where I go to training or the gym and that’s it for the day, people still need serving and life goes on.”
Since first discussing it with Phil Barnes on a team night out earlier in the season, Davis says that his teammates have barely batted an eyelid at the news, something which he feels has helped him settle in since joining the club in the summer.
“It’s never been an issue for them. I’ve moved to the club and they’ve made me feel comfortable.”
“It’s just like anything else - they’ve accepted it and used it as part of the banter. If you come in with bad clothes on they’ll take the mick out of that, it’s how football dressing rooms work.”
“You play your best when you are confident and comfortable in your surroundings and the way they’ve reacted has definitely helped that.”
Although the reaction of the wider football community has been largely positive, the winger has received some negative comments over internet forums, something which Davis says is water off a duck’s back.
“You are always going to get negative comments whenever you say anything in the press.”
“I’ve developed a thick skin and you just have to laugh it off.”
Fortunately the negativity has not been mirrored by the club’s fans, something for which Davis is keen to repay them for.
Since his move from Brigg Town in the summer, Davis has been in and out of the starting 11, and faces a three game ban following his sending off against Altrincham last week.
However, the former Grimsby Town man says that he’s keen to get back on the field and let his play do the talking.
“The amount of tweets and support I’ve had from our fans has been heartwarming. It was when I received a bit of stick at the North Ferriby game (on New Year’s Day) and more so this past few days.”
“I’d love to go round and thank everyone individually for their support, and the easiest way to do that is to score some goals and get a few wins under our belts.”