A former Newcastle Jet has become the first male soccer player to compete at the highest level of the sport in Australia and publicly come out as gay.
Andy Brennan, the winger and striker for semi-professional Melbourne club Green Gully, said that at the time of his stint in the A-League he "didn't want to accept" his sexuality.
The 26-year-old Tasmanian left the Jets in January, 2017. He appeared in only five games with the outfit over one-and-a-half seasons, which were overshadowed by injuries.
In an article published by the Professional Football Association on Wednesday Brennan wrote that the support of his current club, friends and family had helped him get to the "final step" of announcing his sexuality publicly.
"When I was at Newcastle Jets, I didn't want to accept my sexuality," he wrote.
"At that time, I was really focussed on playing sport and doing my best there, even though I was injured at times. I tried my best to put all my focus and effort into the game and maybe put that part of me aside.
"Being gay, in sport, and in the closet, it has been a mental burden of not knowing how those around you will react. It was a perceived pressure that consumed me," he said.
"It took me time to realise that I couldn't keep living this lie; that I wanted to be happy with who I am.
"At some point you have to realise that that's who you are and you've just gotta be who you are."
The footballer said he only started becoming comfortable with his sexuality last year, breaking the news to friends, family members and teammates. The Herald Sun reported that he had a girlfriend up until June.
"The overwhelming response has been one of huge support and happiness," Brennan wrote.
In the article, he expressed concern for other men playing sport "professional or amateur" who feel they cannot be themselves, saying there "must be more players who are gay".
"If people see my story as an inspiration, a sign of how things can go, and end up telling even one person how they are feeling, that can make a world of difference.
I tried my best to put all my focus and effort into the game and maybe put that part of me aside.Andy Brennan
"It's better than bottling it up for as long I did."
But he also said he only decided to "go public" because that was what felt right for him.
"I'm not calling on anyone [sic] come out, either," he wrote.
"Do what you want, do what makes you comfortable, because there is no right or wrong way."
Green Gully competes in the National Premier Leagues Victoria, a state-based competition that sits one tier below the A-League.