Remembering Justin Fashanu

We look back on the life of the former Albion man, whose birthday coincides with LGBT+ History Month.

By Charlie Hanson • 19 February 2021

By The Argus
Justin Fashanu would have celebrated his 60th birthday today.

Today marks what would have been former Albion and England under-21 striker Justin Fashanu's 60th birthday.

In May 1998, aged just 37, Fashanu took his own life, seven-and-a-half years after he had revealed in a newspaper that he was the first openly gay man in English professional football. He was also the last.

Fashanu was no stranger to breaking new ground – after a stunning start to his career with Norwich City, he became the first black player in Britain to cost £1 million when he joined Nottingham Forest in 1981.

By The Argus
His time with Albion was brought to an end due to a knee injury that he initially retired from playing because of.

His time at the City Ground was short lived amid reported feuds with Brian Clough about Fashanu's sexuality. The following season he made the move to rivals Notts County.

He spent three years with the Magpies before moving to Albion in 1985 for a fee of just over £100,000. His two years with the club were blighted by a knee injury that saw him make just 20 appearances, scoring twice.

His goals came in a defeat to Shrewsbury Town and a win over Hull City, but the severity of his injury saw him call time on his playing career aged just 25.

Successful surgery in America enabled him make a return to full fitness and he decided to stay in the States when he came out of retirement, turning out for the likes of Los Angeles Heat and Edmonton Brickmen.

By The Argus
Justin Fashanu joined Albion in 1985, going onto make 20 appearances, scoring twice.

He returned to England to sign for Manchester City in 1989, before agreeing to write an article in The Sun because he feared he would be outed in the press.

He would continue his career in the lower reaches of the English pyramid, as well as playing in Sweden, Scotland and New Zealand.

Since his death, his niece Amal Fashanu started The Justin Fashanu Foundation which tackles discrimination in football, while The Justin Campaign started their own football team in 2009 called 'The Justin Fashanu All-Stars'.

This month marks LGBT+ History Month, which looks to 'make LGBT+ people, in all their rich diversity, visible.' You can read more on the official website, by clicking here.