As a child, Justin Fashanu was put into care and eventually raised by white foster parents in Norfolk. At a time when black players were routinely subjected to racist abuse he rose to fame as a forward for Norwich City where he scored a famous goal. He became the first black player to command a £1 million transfer fee when he joined Nottingham Forest. A knee injury forced him out of top level football.
Desperate for the wealth and celebrity he had lost, Fashanu’s attempts to sell fabricated sex scandals to the tabloid press ended in a humiliating exit from Britain. Based in the USA for several years he returned to England when facing charges of sexual assault and committed suicide.
This meticulously researched book shows Justin Fashanu to be a complex character, whose life was full of incident, conflict and controversy on and off the pitch. Perhaps the biggest conflict of all was between his beliefs as a born-again Christian and his sexual orientation, one which was still tormenting him in the last hours of his life.
At a time when British professional football is trying to tackle its reputation for homophobia, this biography is a timely reminder that an openly gay man has already played for clubs in England and Scotland. It has taken this detailed investigation to give a balanced account of his positive and negative experiences.
Justin Fashanu was a charming man who became a reluctant pioneer. He showed courage in persisting with his career and speaking back to his critics. This flawed hero is a significant figure in football, in the story of black people in Britain and in gay history. This is the story of his fascinating life.