This story about the late footballer and gay icon came to my attention recently. http://briandeer.com/justin-fashanu-1.htm Justin Fashanu’s life is a pretty sad story. The article above makes uncomfortable reading. He and brother John were brought up in a Barnardo’s home I understand and it’s interesting to see the way their respective lives developed in different ways considering their challenging start in life.
I recall when Brian Clough splashed out £1m on Justin to buy him from Norwich City for Nottingham Forest. His reputation had arguably, largely been established by one long-distance wonder goal and whilst many big clubs were interested in him, Clough and Taylor performed a typical ‘smash and grab’ raid for the big, physical striker. Things didn’t work out at all for Fashanu at The City Ground. After the huge fee that Forest had paid, his performances were unfortunately mediocre at best and not punctuated by regular goal scoring. Fashanu was well known to be visiting a gay club or two around Nottingham at the time when football still lived in the past (and arguably still does in some ways) regarding more enlightened thinking about sexuality. Justin’s private life and more likely his lack of product on the pitch appeared to succeed in antagonising manager Clough, an d his intolerance to lacklustre performances on match day. Finally, one morning, Clough banished Fashanu from the Forest training ground as his patience ran out with Justin. My understanding is that Fashanu refused to leave the ground and at this point Clough called the police to intervene and escort the player away. A short time afterwards, neighbouring club, Notts County signed Fashanu for a cut-price £100,000. His outings for Notts however, were marked by the same ineffectiveness as displayed on the other side of the Trent. His time at Forest and Notts signalled his long descent into mediocrity, a career that never really began in some ways.
Justin had few successes as a player afterwards although continuing to play football until 1994. He moved to the United States in 1998 where he came under the scrutiny of the police after a seventeen-year-old boy accused him of sexual assault. An arrest warrant was issued for him in Maryland but he had already left his accommodation and fled to England.
Justin Fashanu took his own life in 1998 and was found hanged in an east London garage, The suicide note he left stated that he felt he would not receive a fair trial due to him being a homosexual, the note also claimed that the sex with the young man had been consensual.
It’s a matter of conjecture how Justin’s life and career would have shaped up if that one wonder goal had slipped the wrong side of the post. Truly a sliding doors moment and a tale with a tragic ending.