December 9 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The author of a new book which looks to shine a light on the tragic life of former Canaries star Justin Fashanu has issued a heartfelt thank you to those people from Norwich who helped make it possible.
Fashanu, who scored 40 goals for Norwich – including his famous strike against Liverpool in 1980 – in 103 appearances between 1979 and 1981 was the first footballer to disclose he was gay.
Britain’s first million pound black player had to contend with homophobia, prejudice and discrimination throughout his career and had his life cut short when, in 1998, he took his own life in a garage in Shoreditch, London.
Forbidden Forward, a new book by former broadcast journalist Nick Baker, tells his compelling life story – the triumph and the tragedy – in a sensitive but brutally candid way.
But Mr Baker, a writer who now works on factual TV shows, said none of it would have been possible without the help of so many people from Norwich and Norfolk who gave him an unrivalled insight into the man as well as the sporting icon.
In 2011 Mr Baker, through the Norwich Evening News and Eastern Daily Press, made a plea for people who knew Fashanu to contact him and was amazed at the response.
He said: “When the papers first put out the call for people who knew Justin to contact me I was bowled over by how many people actually responded. More than a hundred people contacted me, ranging from people who went to primary school with him, former Norwich City players who played with him at Carrow Road to his pony riding instructor!
“I want to thank everyone who got in touch. The book would not be the same without you.”
Since his death, the striker’s bravery has been heralded by campaigners who set up The Justin Campaign to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions that exist around gay men in soccer. It was this bravery that Mr Baker said he wanted to highlight through the book.
Forbidden Forward, which is published by Reid publishing, is out now and available in bookshops.
For an exclusive peek at Forbidden Forward see tomorrow’s paper for the first of a three-part serialisation of the book.