A-League football player Josh Cavallo has opened up about the inner torment he faced for years before coming out as gay, confessing living a lie was 'eating him alive'.
The Adelaide United central midfielder came out in an emotional video on Twitter on Wednesday, making him the world's only known gay male professional footballer actively playing.
The young Socceroos player said he knew he had to be candid about his sexuality after realising it was preventing him from enjoying his achievements on the field.
'I received a rising star award and I felt this sense of numbness because I felt like I had to lie to my peers that whole time and act like someone I'm not,' he told the Today show on Thursday.
'It was eating me alive on the inside. I didn't want to continue my life like that.'
Adelaide united star Josh Cavallo (pictured) came out as gay on Wednesday in an emotional video posted on his club's official Twitter page
The 21-year-old said suppressing his true identity made him constantly miserable and he could no longer maintain keeping up appearances.
'I put my head on my pillow at night and I was sad. I wasn't happy. I didn't want to continue my life like that,' he said.
'This is more than just football for me. This is my personal life. If I can help evolve the football game and to show that everyone's welcomed in the football community, that's all I'm looking to do.'
In the past 24 hours, hundreds from around the world have come forward to throw their support behind the athlete, including BBC's Gary Lineker and some of football's biggest stars like Antoine Griezmann and Gerard Pique.
His brave announcement could also make him very rich - with famous gay rugby league player Ian Roberts saying major international corporations like Adidas, Nike and Puma may be clamouring to become his sponsor.
'It's going to be really interesting to see how the sponsors support him now,' Roberts, who came out in 1995, told the Daily Telegraph.
Cavallo has confessed living a lie was 'eating him alive' and he was miserable suppressing his true identity
'This could, quite literally, be the pink pot of gold, I think, for Josh.'
Cavallo represented Australia's under-20s national team in 2018 and enjoyed a brief stint with Melbourne Victory's youth squad before signing with Western United.
The talented midfielder spent 18 months with Western United as they found their feet in the A-League before signing with Adelaide.
He commented on the brutal nature of football in Australia in an interview with ESPN earlier this year.
'I think everyone would rather just be at one club for their whole career but there are different circumstances, different things happen, coaches change,' Cavallo said.
'Unfortunately, this is Australian football, that's how it happens. In Europe, you might move to another league or country but in Australia, you can't do that, you have to move to another club or state.'
Cavallo also revealed his ambition to play international football for Australia or Malta where his parents were born.
The announcement makes him the only known gay male professional footballer currently playing in the world
'I really want to look at pushing for the Olympics or the Maltese national team. I've had a few talks going forward with the Maltese national team so I want to look at taking a step into their first team or look at going to the Olympics with Australia,' he told ESPN.
'[Malta is] a different world. It opens the window for all the European teams. A couple of months ago they played Croatia. It's a huge opportunity over there.'