FLINTSHIRE footballing legend Ian Rush has praised the 'bravery' of Jake Daniels, who is the first male professional footballer to come out as gay in the UK during the 21st century.

In May, Blackpool forward Daniels, 17, opened up about his sexuality, becoming the first active male footballer in the UK to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu did so in 1990.

Former Wales striker Rush, 60, recently spoke to Gambling.com about how the game has moved on since his playing days.

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St Asaph-born Rush reflected on his own playing days and pulled no punches in saying that the men's game needed to get up to speed with the women's game, where players have felt comfortable to express their sexuality for many years.

Speaking to Gambling.com about Jake Daniels, Rush said: "I can’t tell you how impressed I am by the young man’s bravery. The fact he’s only 17 makes it all the more impressive and, despite his tender years, he’ll likely become a role model for many more.

"He should be very proud of himself and I hope he can just get on with his career now without worrying about something that really shouldn’t be an issue. When you feel like you have something to hide, it can make it hard to concentrate on your job, so the fact he’s got this off his chest so early in his career will only help his football.

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PIC: Blackpool FC forward Jake Daniels. Picture by Press Association.

"When I think back to when Justin Fashanu was playing, I was in the thick of my own career and it seems like so long ago now. It’s been a long time and it’s sad that so many years have passed without an active player in the UK feeling comfortable enough to come out.

"The men’s game could certainly learn a few things from the women’s game, where players and fans are a lot more open. Hopefully Jake’s announcement is a landmark moment for men’s football and I wish him the very best of luck with his very promising career."

Last month was one to remember for Rush himself too as a mural of him was unveiled in Liverpool.

The 60-year-old, who grew up in Flint, is an icon at Liverpool FC having scored a club-record 346 goals for the Anfield outfit during the 1980's and the 90's.