ZANDER MURRAY has become the first senior Scottish footballer to come out as gay.

The Gala Fairydean Rovers striker opened up on his sexuality after Blackpool's Jake Daniels and SFA referees Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson came out earlier this year.

But Murray, 30, is the first Scottish senior player to come out and is hoping to inspire fellow footballers in a similar position to be comfortable being themselves.

The striker - who lives in Battlefield, Glasgow - praised the immense support from his team-mates after first announcing his sexuality in a private social media post.

"Firstly it feels like the weight of the world is now off my shoulders," said Murray.

"The reason I have decided to do this now is twofold firstly I was on holiday recently at a pride event and I have always been that closeted never to go to these things but I loved it.

"The vibe was brilliant and everyone was just being free and happy and it was great to just be me.

"I also want to help other players who are struggling with this as it isn't easy for men, especially footballers to deal with.

"The lads at the club have been so supportive. I have a really strong bond with everyone at the club and I have been blown away by the support.

"Before coming out you think people will turn against you and you think the worst.

"It's been lovely how much support I have had.

"I have done lots of research and I always keep an eye on media outlets to see if there are any platforms for young gay male footballers for support but there are none.

"I would really like to look into and see what support can be given to other players to inspire them.

"In recent years Jake Daniels has come out and then Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson who are both referees have done the same.

"Of course there are gay footballers in our game and I have had lots of players get in touch saying they have read my post and they can't believe how strong I am by doing this."

Murray told the Gala Fairydean Rovers club website that he decided "enough is enough" after refusing to be tagged in online posts because of his status in football.

And he's hoping the men's game can learn from the diversity and openness women's football as he called for a support network to be established to help players.

"Then I thought to myself 'what am I doing' this is playing havoc with my life," said Murray of his previous decision to conceal his sexuality.

"So at that moment I thought enough is enough.

"I put a post on my social media telling folk I was gay. I didn't need to sit the boys down in the changing room and tell them.

"It can be difficult and you can feel very alone. I knew I was different for many years but with other people in the game coming out it's been amazing.

"Hopefully the SFA can work with other leagues and partners and look at support and drive how we help other players.

"That support is greatly needed in the men's game.

"Women's football is another ball game. They are completely diverse and open and this is something the men's game should aspire to be."

Gala Fairydean Rovers club chairman Ryan Cass added: "Everyone at the club is fully supportive of Zander and we are delighted for him that he feels comfortable to come out.

"Zander has shown great bravery and he has the club's full support and I am certain that he will get the support he deserves from all across the football family in Scotland."