English broadcaster ITV is making a drama series about footballer Justin Fashanu — the first top-flight professional footballer to come out as gay — who ended his career with Wellington club Miramar Rangers.
Fashanu became Britain’s first £1m black player when he transferred to Nottingham Forest in August 1981.
The series -— called Fash — will dramatise the life story of Fashanu and his brother, John, another professional player who also had a spell with Miramar Rangers.
Written by Bafta-nominated writer and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah, the series has been helped by John, who served as a consultant with LGBTQ+ campaigner Peter Tatchell, a friend of Justin in the 1980s.
“Much has been said and written about the relationship Justin and I shared over the years, but drama of this type has an ability to delve right to the beating heart and truth of events in a way other media can’t,” John Fashanu told BBC News.
“I feel privileged to play a part in bringing it to the screen.”
Tatchell said: “This is a powerful, moving life story that needs to be told.”
Main photo: Justin Fashanu started his career with Norwich City. Photo: Peter Tatchell Foundation.
The series is in the early stages of production and no cast list has been made public.
Justin Fashanu: A much-travelled career
When Justin Fashanu was 24, he suffered a severe knee injury which threatened his career.
His career took him to various English clubs including Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester City, West Ham United, Leyton Orient, Newcastle United, Torquay United and Heart of Midlothian.
He also had spells with clubs in Australia (Adelaide City), the United States (LA Heat, Atlanta Ruckus) and Canada (Edmonton Brick Men, Hamilton Steelers, Toronto Blizzard).
Fashanu’s 1980 Goal of the Season
Fashanu won the BBC’s 1979-80 Goal of the Season for this goal for Norwich against Liverpool:
Fashanu came out to The Sun newspaper in late 1990 and suffered from crowd abuse and taunts.
In 1997, he came to New Zealand to play for Miramar Rangers in the Summer League, scoring 12 goals in 18 appearances.
An influential factor in his move to Wellington was that his brother had played for Miramar Rangers in 1982, helping them to the Chatham Cup final. John, who was 19 when he played in New Zealand, returned to the United Kingdom where he became an FA Cup winner with Wimbledon in 1988 and played twice for England in 1989.
After his spell with Rangers, Justin Fashanu chose to retire and left New Zealand for a new life in the United States.
The following May, aged 37, he was found dead in a lock-up garage in London.
His niece, equal rights campaigner Amal Fashanu, made a TV documentary about Justin’s struggle to be accepted and she accepted his football Hall of Fame award in 2020.