The late Justin Fashanu will be inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, on what would have been his 59th birthday.
Fashanu was England’s first male English professional to come out as gay while still playing, back in 1990. He took his own life in 1998.
His niece Amal Fashanu, who campaigns against homophobia in sport and is a co-founder of The Justin Fashanu Foundation, will receive the award on his behalf at the museum in Manchester during LGBT History Month.
Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1million transfer fee with his move from Norwich to Nottingham Forest in 1981. He played for a total of 22 clubs in England, North America, Scotland and New Zealand.
Amal Fashanu said: “Today would have been Uncle Justin’s 59th birthday and what a way to celebrate it on his behalf.
“One of my favourite memories of Uncle Justin was his playful, cheeky character. He was so fun to be around and he would have been the life and soul of this event.
“Justin Fashanu was talented, smart, well-loved and charming. It warms my heart to witness his legacy being honoured more than 21 years after his untimely passing.
“It’s unfortunate that we are still discussing discrimination in football in 2020 and it’s because of this harsh reality that we decided to create a platform in his name to tackle homophobia, racism and mental health within the game.
“The Justin Fashanu Foundation would like to thank The National Football Museum and all stakeholders involved who came together to honour my Uncle Justin.”
Fashanu’s induction coincides with the launch of the National Football Museum’s LGBT+ Tour. The tour features objects from the museum’s collection which tell the story of LGBT+ history within the context of football.
National Football Museum chief executive Tim Desmond said: “We’re delighted to present this award to Amal Fashanu on behalf of Justin and The Justin Fashanu Foundation.
“The National Football Museum Hall of Fame aims to recognise a wide diversity of individuals who’ve made an outstanding contribution to the game.
“Justin was a pioneer on many levels and with this award we acknowledge not only Justin’s legacy but also the importance of the LGBT+ community within football.”
Stephen Fry celebrated Fashanu’s induction by donning a special scarf to mark the occasion.
The scarf celebrates Fashanu’s goal of the season effort against Liverpool in 1980, with some of the wording written in the colours of the Pride flag.
Fry tweeted: “My fellow @norwichcityfc @ProudCanaries have produced this scarf celebrating #JustinFashanu and his Goal of the Season.
“I’m more than proud to wear it today – his birthday – and the day he is inducted into the @FootballMuseum Hall of Fame”.