Jake Daniels is determined to "drive change" after the teenage Blackpool forward came out as gay.

The 17-year-old posted a message via the Tangerines' website on Monday, stating that he has been inspired by the "courage" of fellow footballers Josh Cavallo and Matt Morton, as well as Olympic gold-medal winning diver Tom Daley.

Daniels has been in prolific form for Blackpool's under-19 team, scoring 30 goals this season, and he recently made his first team debut as a substitute in a Championship game against Peterborough United.

The youngster is the first current male professional footballer in Great Britain to publicly come out as gay and hopes by doing so, he will be a role model.

"Off the pitch I've been hiding the real me and who I really am," Daniels wrote. "I've known my whole life that I'm gay, and I now feel that I'm ready to come out and be myself.

"It's a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality, but I've been inspired by Josh Cavallo, Matt Morton and athletes from other sports, like Tom Daley, to have the courage and determination to drive change.

"In reaching this point, I've had some of the best support and advice from my family, my club, my agent and Stonewall, who have all been incredibly pro-active in putting my interests and welfare first.

"I have also confided in my team-mates in the youth team here at Blackpool, and they too have embraced the news and supported my decision to open up and tell people.

"I've hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in. I want to be a role model myself by doing this.

"There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality. I just want to tell them that you don't have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in.

"You being you, and being happy, is what matters most."

Bournemouth have been promoted back to the Premier League thanks to their 1-0 win over fellow high-flyers Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

In what was billed as the biggest match of the Championship season so far, Forest could have moved themselves up to second with a victory ahead of the final weekend of the campaign.

But Bournemouth, who went into the game three points clear of third-placed Forest, stole the win late on.

Philip Billing opted for a short pass into the box from his free-kick on the edge of the area in the 83rd minute, with his decision not to shoot seemingly catching Forest off guard.

Kieffer Moore was the recipient of the pass, and his controlled first-time finish found the bottom-right corner as Bournemouth secured their return to the top flight.

The Cherries were relegated from the Premier League at the end of 2019-20 and then fell short of returning at the first time of asking when losing 3-2 on aggregate to Brentford in the play-off semi-finals last season.

But Scott Parker succeeded where Jonathan Woodgate could not, with the former Chelsea midfielder ensuring Bournemouth did not need the back-up provided by the play-offs.

They join Parker's former club Fulham, who have already won the Championship title, in returning to the Premier League.

Forest will go into the play-offs with Huddersfield Town, while two of Sheffield United, Luton Town and Middlesbrough shall join them.

Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks has revealed he is cancer-free and says he is determined to resume his career "in the not-so-distant future."

The Wales international announced last October that he had been diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Brooks revealed on Tuesday that he has been given the all-clear after undergoing treatment, and the 24-year-old is eager to make his comeback as soon as possible for a Cherries side that are pushing for promotion to the Premier League.

He posted on Twitter: "It has been a few months since my last update and in that time I have thankfully completed my cancer treatment.

"I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the incredible medical staff for their amazing work and support throughout the process.

"Last week I met with my specialist having reviewed my final test results. I am delighted to say the treatment was successful and can say that I have been given the all-clear and am now cancer free.

"These words feel incredible to say and I am so thankful for all of your messages and good wishes, these really helped me through the tough times.

"I am so excited to start the journey back to full fitness and continuing my football career.

"The lads at Bournemouth have had an excellent season so far and I am looking forward to being back at The Vitality to cheer the team on as we head into the most important fixtures of the season.

"I am determined to work my hardest over the months ahead and I can't wait to be back out there playing in front of you on the pitch in the not so distant future."

Aleksandar Mitrovic was "practically begged" to stay at Fulham by vice-chairman Tony Khan prior to his record-breaking Championship season.

The Serbia striker scored twice as Fulham battered Luton Town 7-0 on Monday to clinch the title, taking him to 43 league goals for the campaign.

That tally represents a new benchmark for the division, beating Guy Whittingham's 42 registered in the 1992-1993 season.

However, Khan revealed those incredible exploits almost did not happen with Mitrovic having asked to depart after a campaign that saw him score only three times in 27 Premier League appearances and resulted in the Cottagers being relegated.

"He told me he was leaving," Khan said in quotes reported by the Athletic. "He said, 'I cannot come back, I just can't do it.' He didn't play last year. The team were relegated and I don't think it's any secret that he wasn't happy with how the season went. He believed he could have contributed more. He didn't want to come back. I practically begged him to keep an open mind.

"I'm really happy for him. I really like Mitro, as a player and as a person. I'm really proud, too, because when he called me last summer he was very frustrated. 

"He didn't want to come back. It's amazing how, 10 months on, so much has changed and everything has fallen into such a perfect place. It's like a storybook."

For his part, Mitrovic conceded the prospect of breaking the record had been on his mind even if he was not openly speaking about the target.

"I know I've always tried to say I've not thought about the record," he said.

"But when you're that close and everybody starts talking about it, so of course I wanted to break it - and now it's happened. 

"It was special in a big win. So, I think we finished the season like we dreamed, like we wanted with a big win at home in front of our crowd and I broke the record - everything was perfect."

Fulham have now been either promoted or relegated in each of the past five seasons. Khan had a rather amusing way of displaying his hope the club can buck that trend.

"We've done the first part to get promoted," Khan said. "Now we want to do the other part. 

"We definitely need to put together a great season and do everything we can to stay up. We've been focused on building a more sustainable team and I think we can do it. 

"I don't want us to be seen that way [as a yo-yo club]. From now on, I just want us to be a yo club."

Fulham sealed the Championship title with a thumping 7-0 win over Luton Town, as Aleksandar Mitrovic set a new goalscoring record for a 46-game season.

Having wrapped up an immediate promotion back to the Premier League by beating Preston North End last week, Marco Silva's Whites confirmed their status as second-tier Champions with a win that sent several records tumbling at Craven Cottage.

Mitrovic, who was recently crowned Championship player of the season after an incredible individual campaign, beat Guy Whittingham's long-standing record of 42 goals in a 46-game English league season, set in Portsmouth's 1992-93 campaign, also in the second-tier.

The Serbia international scored Fulham's fourth and seventh goals to take his tally to 43 in 43 appearances this season, with the Cottagers having one league game still to play.

Although Mitrovic's tally is some way behind the all-time second-tier record (Middlesbrough's George Camsell hit 59 goals in 1927-28), he has now outscored this season's second-highest goalscorer – Bournemouth's Dominic Solanke – by 14 strikes, as Fulham reached 106 league goals for the campaign.

In doing so, Silva's side became the first to score 100 goals in a single second-tier season since Manchester City reached 108 in 2001-02, a tally they could yet better when they visit Sheffield United on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Fulham also became the first team since Tottenham's 1960-61 double winners to score 50 goals both home and away in a single league campaign across the top four tiers of English football. 

Remarkably, Luton, who could yet join Fulham in the Premier League via the play-offs as they sit sixth with one game remaining, are also the third team to lose 7-0 to Fulham this season, after Blackburn Rovers in November and Reading in January.

That means three of the five biggest margins of victory recorded in English league football this season have been set by Silva's men, who will hope to break their reputation as a 'yo-yo' club on their return to the top flight next term.

Nancy will lose their fully professional status for the first time after fan protests resulted in relegation from Ligue 2.

France great Michel Platini made his name at Nancy, who have been an ever-present in France's top two tiers since becoming a professional side in 1967.

However, they will play in the third tier next season after their relegation from Ligue 2 was confirmed.

Playing against fellow strugglers Quevilly Rouen on Friday, Nancy needed a positive result to keep their chances of survival alive, yet a fan protest against the club's owners – Pacific Media Group (PMG) – resulted in the match being called off due to security concerns, with smoke bombs having been thrown onto the pitch.

Quevilly were therefore handed a 3-0 victory and three points, confirming Nancy's drop out of the professional leagues. 

They last played in Ligue 1 in 2016-17, though had been ever-present in the top flight between 1996 and 2013.

It marked a dark day for PMG, which owns multiple clubs in Europe. Indeed, elsewhere on Friday, Barnsley, another team backed by the American-Chinese consortium, were relegated from the Championship to League One.

Fulham earned a third promotion to the Premier League in five seasons with their 3-0 win over Preston North End on Tuesday.

All three goals came in the first half at Craven Cottage in what became a routine game, with Aleksandar Mitrovic opening the scoring in only the ninth minute. 

Fabio Carvalho doubled the margin, before Mitrovic added another before half-time.

The Cottagers have earned a 'yo-yo' reputation for bouncing between the Premier League and Championship in recent years.

They were promoted in 2018 and swiftly relegated, before going up again in 2020 and coming straight back down once more.

Now the elite ranks beckon again, with Marco Silva's team aiming to sustain top-flight status this time around.

Fulham had a 13-season spell in the elite from 2001 to 2014, which was the last time they enjoyed consecutive seasons at the top level.

Their campaign this season has been fuelled by a remarkable goal output from Mitrovic, who has now scored 40 times in the league.

Head coach Silva was appointed before the season got under way, replacing Scott Parker who moved on to join Bournemouth.

The Portuguese has previous Premier League experience from his time with Hull City, Everton and Watford.

Jamaica International striker Bobby Decordova-Reid’s Fulham FC will be playing Premier League football in the 2022-23 season after securing promotion to the top flight with a 3-0 victory over Preston North End in the EFL Championship at Craven Cottage on Tuesday.

Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic got goals in the 9th and 41st minutes to continue a prolific EFL Championship season that has so far seen him score 40 goals in 40 games.

Portuguese midfielder Fabio Carvalho got a goal in the 31st minute before he was replaced by Reid 15 minutes before full-time.

With 86 points from 42 matches, Fulham secured their return to the highest level of English football with four games to spare.

The London-based club will be eager to improve their performance from their last Premier League season where they finished 18th in 2020-21.  

Reid has seven goals and seven assists so far this season for the Cottagers and two goals in 16 appearances for the Reggae Boyz since making his debut in 2019.

Wayne Rooney suggested he would like to remain with Derby County in League One, saying he was proud of his team despite seeing their relegation from the Championship confirmed on Monday. 

The Rams will play in the third tier for the first time since the 1985-86 season after falling to a 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

That result, coupled with rivals Reading recovering from 4-1 down to earn a remarkable 4-4 draw with Swansea City, means Derby have been relegated with three games to play after a season fraught with crisis.

Derby have been deducted a total of 21 points this season – 12 for entering administration in September and nine for breaching the Football League's financial rules under former owner Mel Morris – and were unable to overcome that significant hurdle despite producing promising results on the pitch.

Asked for his initial thoughts after relegation was confirmed, former Manchester United and England captain Rooney said he was "proud" of his players' efforts and stressed the importance of the club's takeover being completed as quickly as possible.

"[I'm] proud," Rooney told Sky Sports. "It's a strange feeling because [despite] everything we've been through as a group, the lads on the pitch, the staff, the fans, the development of the team has been really positive.

"Yeah, we've been relegated, but I've never seen a team get relegated and have a reaction from their fans like that. I thought it was incredible, the support the fans gave the lads all season.

"Of course, I'm disappointed, sad, upset, but proud. In some ways, now we can draw a line under everything that's happened and really start the rebirth of this club and try to move the club forward.

"We need the takeover to happen, it has to happen quick. The quicker that happens, the quicker we can start to develop the squad and bring in players that can bring us back up."

Prospective owner Chris Kirchner is reported to be close to completing a deal for the Pride Park club, and Rooney hinted he wants the chance to lead the Rams back to the second tier if the takeover goes through.

"The takeover has to happen. If it doesn't then I fear for the club, I fear for where the club will end up," he added. "The club's future is in doubt and my future is in doubt if it doesn't happen, so it has to.

"If it does then I want to rebuild the club. You see what it means to the fans, it's a big club, a special club, and I want to be the one to try to bring those happy days back."

Derby would be sat in lower mid-table on 52 points if not for their points deductions, and Rooney expressed regret that his players had been penalised for off-pitch events.

"I feel for the players because we've picked up 52 points, and we'd be safe now in normal circumstances," he said. "We've paid the price for what the former owner has left behind.

"It's no one's fault, not mine, not the staff, not the players', it's no one's fault other than the previous owner. We're paying the price, and I'm sure it's a sad day for him as well."

Wayne Rooney considered links to the vacant Burnley job "a compliment", but he has reiterated his commitment to Derby County.

Derby manager Rooney was one of the names cited as a possible option for Burnley after the Premier League club sensationally sacked long-time boss Sean Dyche on Friday.

Dyche had overseen 425 matches in charge of the Clarets, including 258 in the Premier League. Only six other managers have taken in more games with a single club in the competition.

At nine years and 167 days, Dyche's tenure was the longest among Premier League coaches prior to his dismissal; Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool reign (six years and 189 days as of Friday) was a distant second.

Dyche leaves Burnley 18th in the top flight and four points from safety with eight games remaining, leaving little time to hire a replacement.

Burnley Under-23s coach Mike Jackson, supported by a staff including injured captain Ben Mee, will lead the first team at West Ham on Sunday, but Sam Allardyce has been linked with the post – along with Rooney.

The former Manchester United and England captain was also reported to be a candidate for boyhood club Everton before they appointed Frank Lampard, yet he remains for now at Derby, attempting to beat relegation from the Championship.

"I think it's a compliment to me and the staff, what we've been trying to do here," Rooney said after a 2-1 win over league-leading Fulham on Friday. "[It was] the same with Everton, when you get linked with Premier League clubs.

"I was surprised when I saw that Sean Dyche had been sacked, he's been brilliant for Burnley over the last 10 years.

"Obviously, I've seen the links, I've seen in the news, various news articles that I've been linked.

"But for me what's important is I focus on trying to keep this club in this division. And the future, my future depends on this takeover, that needs to be completed."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp compared Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final win against Nottingham Forest to a Champions League atmosphere.

It was a hard-fought 1-0 victory for Klopp's men, the sides separated only by Diogo Jota's 78th-minute winner after getting on the end of Kostas Tsimikas' cross.

Nottingham Forest had a penalty shout turned down after a VAR review with five minutes remaining, while Ryan Yates had a great chance with a header as the 90 minutes expired, but it was straight at Alisson.

Klopp was full of praise for his Championship opponents, saying they contributed to the big-match feel.

"Proper cup match, have to say," he told ITV.

"You mentioned before, a European night in Nottingham, that’s what it was pretty much!

"I know they don’t get anything for it, but a massive compliment to Steve Cooper and his team, they played a really good game.

"Just that they fought, closed the gaps. We could have and should have played better, but they made it really difficult. 

"First half we should have scored the sitter, Bobby [Roberto Firmino], that’s really unlike him that he doesn’t square the ball, Diogo was in a good position.

"The game stayed open, the atmosphere was a massive boost for them. We came through, and I’m really happy with it.

"[The goal] was not a massive chance, a difficult one to get there and his leg in front of the defender.

"An outstanding goal and he is a striker – a proper striker – in those sorts of situations and a desire to put the body in, absolutely great."

Kylian Mbappe is widely expected to join Real Madrid at the end of this season.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract and has not renewed with the French giants.

Madrid have long admired Mbappe and attempted an audacious bid to sign him in August.

TOP STORY – PSG STEP UP MBAPPE RENEWAL BID

Paris Saint-Germain are ramping up their efforts to convince Mbappe to renew with the club, reports Marca.

Mbappe has previously hinted he will join Madrid at the end of this season when his PSG contract expires.

PSG are pulling out all the stops to persuade Mbappe, who has been with the club since 2017.

 

ROUND-UP

- MLS club LA Galaxy have enquired about PSG defender Sergio Ramos according to Footmercato. Ramos has made five appearances for PSG since his off-season move and may be available on a free transfer.

- Manchester United are not willing to match Napoli's eye-watering £100m price tag for Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen reports the Daily Star.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Juventus are hopeful that they can retain Spanish forward Alvaro Morata, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

- Juventus are also in front in the race to sign Roma winger Nicolo Zaniolo, who is yet to recommit to the Giallorossi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Fulham want to sign ex-Manchester City and Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli if they win promotion back to the Premier League, claims Turkish outfit Star. Balotelli currently plays his football in Turkey with Adana Demirspor, with good form prompting an Italy recall.

Aleksandar Mitrovic sensationally secured the Championship's single-season scoring record in February with his 32nd and 33rd goals of the campaign for Fulham on Wednesday.

Since England's second tier was rebranded as the Championship in 2004-05, Ivan Toney's 31 goals last season for Brentford had represented the benchmark.

However, Mitrovic's remarkable season continued in Fulham's 2-1 win over Peterborough United, his 30th appearance of 2021-22.

The Serbia international's opener from the penalty spot passed Toney's mark, before his second extended his own record and ensured the league leaders took all three points.

Mitrovic, who also played in the division for Newcastle United before joining Fulham, now has 75 Championship goals in just 116 appearances.

That compares favourably with his rather underwhelming return of 24 goals in 104 in the Premier League.

The last player to score more in the second tier was Portsmouth's Guy Whittingham, who hit 42 in 1992-93, although even that pales next to George Camsell's ludicrous 59 Middlesbrough goals all the way back in 1926-27.

Perhaps with those two now in his sights, Mitrovic said: "I've had quite a few records, but this feels nice. I broke the record with the Serbia national team as well, and now today here. I feel good, I feel great in this team."

Fulham boss Marco Silva added: "The best team on the pitch deserves the three points; congratulations for our players and now let's talk about Mitro. Congratulations for him.

"The numbers speak for themselves. I cannot say anything more. 33 goals at the end of February with 14 games to play – they are fantastic, fantastic numbers.

"What I like more from him is that he's always demanding more and more and more. He knows that from tomorrow I will demand more and more from him. The team-mates will do the same as well.

"But first we are happy, because it's not just Mitro's number, it's something more, it's something that reflects our philosophy as a club, as a staff."

Wayne Rooney insisted his focus remains on Derby County but acknowledged he would "love" to manage Manchester United or Everton in future.

Rooney has overseen a tumultuous period at the Championship club, who were docked 21 points earlier this season due to financial mismanagement.

In the challenging circumstances at Pride Park, Rooney has excelled and the Rams are now just four points away from escaping the relegation zone with 16 games left.

Derby's survival hopes were boosted after both Peterborough United and Reading lost on Wednesday, while the former England striker was attending the premiere of his Amazon documentary, 'Rooney'.

His progress has already been noted by those at Goodison Park, with the 36-year-old claiming he turned down the opportunity to interview for the Everton manager's job last month as he did not want to walk away from Derby.

But Rooney would be open to joining one of his former clubs after he has navigated his current challenge with Derby.

"I didn't go to the [Everton] interview, which I was asked to go to," Rooney said on the red carpet at his film premiere. "I've always been one who likes a challenge and is willing to put the work in and fight.

"I've stood in front of my players and told them, 'I'm with you, trust me, I'm fighting with you'... what type of person would I be if, at the first opportunity, I left them?

"True to my word, I am fighting for the club. I am trying to get us out.

"And then Everton, Manchester United – two clubs close to my heart. Of course, one day I'd love to manage either of them clubs."

Derby cruised to a 3-1 victory over Hull City on Tuesday and next visit Middlesbrough, with Rooney believing his side's performances are resonating with the unwavering Rams support.

While he was overseeing yet another Championship victory, United were held to a 1-1 draw at lowly Burnley, but Rooney called for patience at his former club.

"I obviously haven't seen the [United] game – we [Derby] were playing. But I've seen the result and I think they're going through a tough period," he added.

"And you can see a few things off the pitch. It's a tough one. I think it's been going on for a while, if I'm being honest. These are things I brought up in 2010.

"They've tried everything. They've tried very experienced managers in Louis van Gaal. They've tried Jose Mourinho, David Moyes, Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] – one of their own – and now they've tried more of the 'professor' type in the new manager.

"I really think they need to bring someone in and give them time. Give them the opportunity to build the squad, let them compete and get back to the levels we all think they should be at."

Pressed on potentially becoming the United manager, Rooney replied: "As I've said before, Manchester United and Everton are both clubs I'd love to manage one day, but I've got a commitment to Derby County.

"I'm fighting for them, so my focus has to be on Derby."

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