Former A-League star becomes first Australian footballer to come out as gay
An Australian footballer has become the first male player in the country to come out publicly as gay.
Andy Brennan, 26, revealed he has "never felt better" after overcoming the sense of "burden" in hiding his sexuality.
The winger played for A-League side Newcastle Jets between 2015 and 2017, and joined second-tier outfit Green Gully SC earlier this year.
Brennan posted on his Instagram account on Tuesday: "Being open is the best way for me to feel most comfortable and be myself."
Speaking to the Professional Footballers Australia players' union, Brennan explained that he had fears over how people would react to the news, but his show of courage has led to him having no regrets.
"It got to a point where I had to realise that I had to accept who I am," he said.
" I thought about it a lot, tried to hide it, tried to push it aside, just because of the way I thought it would be perceived by a lot of people."
"I thought that if I ever came out, or spoke about it to people, that they might treat me differently, or not see me as who I am, so I was always worried about it.
"Fortunately I have, because I've never felt better."
Brennan's time with the Jets was plagued by injury having moved from his hometown club South Hobart to South Melbourne earlier in his career.
In an interview with the Herald Sun, the Green Gully forward admitted to suffering from mental illness as a result of his inner turmoil over whether or not to come out. He said:
" Since being at Gully especially, it's always been on my mind that this person doesn't know or that person does know, what will they think? "
"It's just a complete mind overload, your mind's battling yourself. All you want to do is kick a ball about and play.
"There will be people out there thinking, 'why has he got to voice his own personal 'whatever' to the world?' The reason I wanted to do this in the first place was to make me feel comfortable.
"It's been a big lift off my shoulders and I can just focus on playing football."