Former Everton player and Welsh International Neville Southall – ‘Big Nev’ – is at it again. Last October the retired soccer play made headlines when he tweeted his support for gay and trans people living authentic lives.
‘If your gay straight trans or anything else you should be able to be what u want
Not live a lie
Without discrimination or prejudice’
That tweet received thousands of retweets and hundreds of comments. Many welcomed the players support for diversity and inclusion in sport.
Obviously, it also led some to speculate on Southall’s own sexuality, as he made clear in a tweet he put out last night.
I find it funny that if I tweet something about LGBT stuff people ask me if I am gay but if I tweet about animals they never ask if I am a tiger 🐅
— Neville Southall (@NevilleSouthall) January 14, 2018
‘I find it funny that if I tweet something about LGBT stuff people ask me if I am gay but if I tweet about animals they never ask if I am a tiger. Why’
At the time of writing, the tweet has had almost 4,000 re-tweets and hundreds of answers.
‘You can be my tiger’
One of the first to comment was a parody account for former West Ham striker Cartlon Cole.
‘Rawr you can be my tiger’ it tweeted, prompting a lighthearted, flirtatious exchange.
Others gave more serious replies.
‘I just think your an awesome human who like other inspiring figures gives me hope in humanity,’ said @Tara_Hewitt.
‘People are stupid about that stuff tho. They think one can’t support LGBT rights without being one yourself,’ tweeted @skinnylatte
Another user, @AnchorCake asks Southall, ‘Are you a tiger, Nev?’ to which he replied, ‘On occasion.’ She then asks him, ‘Are you a gay tiger, Nev?’ to which he responded, ‘Tigers are very private animals.’
Most suggested he obviously wasn’t a tiger as tiger’s don’t have smartphones… or puns along those lines.
It's because tigers don't have thumbs and cannot operate a smart phone.
… Unless they learnt. And you are a tiger.
Are you a tiger?
— Stephanie 🖤🤍💜 | 💛🐞 (@fpvs) January 15, 2018
LGBTI ally in soccer
Southall is a patron for the Just A Ball Game? organization, which promotes LGBT inclusion in football. He told I News last year about engaging with LGBT people in order to learn more about the challenges they face.
‘We’ve got a horrible habit of judging people in shells, it shouldn’t be their shells it should be what they are. I thought if one of my kids at school asked me about something like that I haven’t got the answers.’
He also became a patron of the Bradford LGBT fans group last year (he had a brief spell at Bradford FC in 2000). He said at the time, ‘I think it’s important that the football community and the LGBT+ community talk more, and maybe I can help?’
‘I think it’s only a matter of time that a footballer will come out. With the work of charities like Just A Ball Game?, we hope to make it a better environment to help that happen.’