Burnley striker Andre Gray has asked for forgiveness after homophobic tweets he wrote four years ago caused outrage online.
The tweets, which were written in 2012 and have since been deleted, appeared to condone killing gay people.
They came to light after Twitter users discovered and retweeted them following the 25-year-old’s first Premier League goal on Saturday afternoon in a 2-0 win over Liverpool.
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One read: “Is it me or are there gays everywhere? #Burn #Die #Makesmesick”.
Gray’s full statement, posted on Twitter, read: “I would like to respond to media reports with regards to previous tweets posted from my Twitter account.
“Firstly, I want to offer a sincere and unreserved apology to anybody I may have offended in relation to these tweets. The tweets were posted four years ago when I was a completely different person to the man I am now. I was at a very different point in my life back then – one that I’ve worked hard to move on from.
“Thankfully a lot has changed in my life since then. I have experienced a lot over the past four years and have had to take responsibility for a number of things in my life which has enabled me to mature and grow as a person since that time.
“I have a lot of regrets regarding a number of things I’ve done in the past and realise I have made some big mistakes, none more so than these tweets, but I would like to stress that I’ve worked incredibly hard to completely transform my life since that time.
“To clarify, I do not hold the beliefs written in those tweets whatsoever. I can assure everybody that I am absolutely not homophobic and as said previously I can only apologise and ask for forgiveness to anyone I offended.
“Thankfully I am not the guy I was back then and will continue to work hard both on and off the pitch to become a better person.”
The tweets were condemned on social media, while anti-discrimination organisations Kick It Out and Stonewall have since spoken about the footballer’s comments.
A statement from Kick It Out read: “We strongly condemn any discrimination and prejudice such as this has no place in football.
“This incident should act as a reminder to all players of their conduct on social media.”
While a spokesperson for Stonewall told the BBC: “While these tweets are of course historic, unfortunately homophobic attitudes and language continue to be an issue in sport, whether that’s on the pitch, in the terraces or on social media.
“It’s extremely important that we work together to kick these attitudes out of sport, and create supportive and inclusive environments that enable everyone to feel accepted without exception.”
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Culled from Squawka