Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has thanked Josh Cavallo after the Australian footballer publicly came out as gay on Wednesday.
Cavallo, who plays for Adelaide United, has become the first openly gay male player in Australia’s A-League.
The 21-year-old made the announcement on social media and said “he couldn’t be happier with my decision”.
Cavallo said he hoped he could help “other players living in silence” after admitting he had to “learn to mask my feelings in order to fit the mould of a professional footballer”.
He added: “I want to help change this, to show that everyone is welcome in the game of football and deserves the right to be their authentic self.”
In a post on Twitter, former World Cup and three-time Champions League winner Pique said: “Hey @JoshuaCavallo, I don’t have the pleasure to know you personally but I want to thank you for this step that you take.
“The world of football is far behind and you are helping us move forward.”
Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann added his support, saying he was “proud” of Cavallo, while Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona and Juventus were among the clubs to praise Cavallo in posts on social media.
Australia Matildas captain Sam Kerr tweeted: “Good for you Josh,” while her Chelsea teammate Magdalena Eriksson added: “I’m so happy for you, @JoshuaCavallo, and I really admire your decision in coming forward to speak about your sexuality.
“The strength this requires is incredible and I’m sure it will inspire so many young people who are currently living a ‘double life’. Well done.”