Justin Fashanu was the son of a Nigerian attorney at law, who was living in the United Kingdom, and a nurse from Guyana known as Pearl. He and his brother, John, were sent to a Banardo home when his parents separated. At the age of six, Justin and his brother, John were fostered by Alf and Betty Jackson and were brought up in, Shropham, Norfolk, England, where Justin Fashanu excelled in boxing as a youth, and was at a point in time being linked with the rumor of pursuing a professional boxing career instead of footballing career which he was known for.
Strongly built and enormous size giant in stature, Justin Fashanu was the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee in 1981. It became a major headline then.
Justin Fashanu was also the first professional footballer to be openly associated with gay. He was a gifted footballer loved by many. Fashanu ended his life on a sad note as he committed suicide on May 2, 1998, in the U.K., after a 17-year-old boy accused him of sexual assault in the U.S. where he had travelled to and met the man of whom he said their sexual relationship was consensual.
Justin Fashanu was born on February 19, 1961, to Barrister Adewale Fashanu and Pearl in England. He was an English footballer of Nigerian heritage and played for a variety of clubs between 1978 and 1997. He was known by his early clubs to be gay although it was well managed not to draw the attention of the media and cause him an early embarrassment in life.
Justin Fashanu began his footballing career as an apprentice with Norwich City, towards the end of December 1978. He made his league debut on 13 January 1979, against West Bromwich Albion, and settled into the Norwich side scoring regularly with occasional and spectacular goals. Fashanu won the BBC Goal of the Season award, for a spectacular goal against Liverpool in 1980. He had a total of 103 senior appearances for Norwich, scoring 40 goals. He was capped six times for England at under-21 level, but was never called up to the senior side as he anticipate. He could also not play for Nigerian senior side, who sought foe him, having capped for England national team at the under 21 level.
Fashanu’s career started taking a nose dive when his confidence and goals waned having been discovered by his Coach, Brian Clough, who was in charge of Nottingham Forest, discovered that Justinwas gay as he frequents gay nightclubs and bars. His inability to adjust to the playing and lifestyle demands of Coach Clough, led to his being barred from training.
Justin Fashanu was loaned out in 1982 out to Southampton. Other teams Justin played for include Notts County, Brighton & Hove Albion, Los Angeles Heat, Edmonton Brickmen, Hamilton Steelers, Manchester City, West Ham United, Leyton Orient and Toronto Blizzard.
In 1998, according to reports, Justin moved to the United States, and was questioned, after his relocation, by police when a seventeen-year-old boy accused him of sexual assault. Fashanu was, thereafter, charged and an arrest warrant for him was issued in Howard County, Maryland on 3 April 1998, but he had already left his flat. The suicide note left behind by Justin revealed that fearing he would not get a fair trial because of his homosexuality, he fled to England where he killed himself in London in May 1998. According to the suicide note, “the sex was consensual” but this was disclaimed by the assaulted.
According to report, “It was in March 1998, that the man claimed to police that he had been sexually assaulted by Fashanu after a night of drinking. Homosexual acts were illegal in the US state of Maryland at the time, and the youth stated the act was not consensual but being performed as he awoke. The assault was alleged to have taken place in Fashanu’s apartment in Ellicott City, Maryland, United States. Fashanu was questioned about this by the police on 3 April, but he was not held in custody. The police later arrived at his flat with a warrant to arrest him on charges of second-degree sexual assault, first-degree assault, and second-degree assault, but Fashanu had already fled to England.”
Justin Fashanu was found, on the morning of 3 May, hanged in a deserted lock-up garage he had broken into, in Fairchild Place, Shoreditch, London, after visiting Chariots Roman Spa, a local gay sauna.
The remains of Fashanu were cremated at a small ceremony held at the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium.
That was the sad end of a promising and bright career which was punctured at prime.