London, Jan 30 (ANI): Joey Barton, who has spoken out in support of gay footballers, believes that if today's players set a better example, Britain could lead the way in stamping out homophobia in football.
The 29-year-old also revealed that his father's youngest brother hid his sexuality for years, fearing the footballer and society would reject him.
Now, the star reckons the Premier League will have an openly gay star within as little as ten years.
Merseyside-born Barton speaks out in a TV documentary screened tonight on BBC Three.
"It's a subject quite close to my heart because my dad's youngest brother, the youngest of my uncles, is gay. And I didn't know for a long, long time," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying on 'Britain's Gay Footballers'.
"He thought because of the society that we were brought up in, which was quite working class, that it would be frowned upon or that we would disown him.
"So for a lot of years he was in turmoil and was resenting himself for the fact he had these feelings.
"I was like, 'I love you for you - not for the fact that you are straight or bisexual or all different manner of things. I love you because you're you'," he said.
Barton blames the fears of team managers for homophobia in football, where none of Britain's 5,000 professionals is openly gay.
The dad of one, who had a son Cassius at Christmas with girlfriend Georgia McNeil, says he pities "archaic" bosses who are frightened of homosexuality.
"There is no doubt in my mind that in the next ten years we have an openly gay footballer.
"My only fear is that certain managers and individuals within the game will discriminate against people. These archaic figures think if they had a gay footballer, they would have all kinds of shenanigans going on in the dressing room.
"That's not the case. As I say it's more fool them and their lack of social awareness and intelligence.
"I pity them a little bit that they don't have enough about them - enough self-confidence or enough self-worth - to be able to say, 'Know what? This is a relevant subject and this is my opinion on it'.
"And I think it's important that the legacy this generation of players leaves is a generation of players that help not only change the game for the better and change the teams they played in, but also change the culture and the society of the football clubs they played at," he added.
Barton is among contributors to a TV investigation by Amal Fashanu, whose footballer uncle Justin "came out" as gay in a candid interview with The Sun in October 1990. (ANI)
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