Celtic captain Scott Brown has revealed how his best friend’s personal fears over his sexuality inspired him to speak out against homophobia.

The former Scotland star has become a campaigning voice on the issue.

And the Parkhead skipper said he hoped his support would help people come out and no longer live in fear.

Speaking as part of Paddy Power’s anti-homophobia campaign in partnership with the Gay Times, the 34-year-old said:“My best mate from school came out and didn’t know how to tell anybody – it was the hardest thing to do in his life.

“I’m here now trying to help people come out – it might be your son, your daughter.

“We need to make it as easy as ­possible for people, so they aren’t living with that fear day in, day out.”

Celtic captain Scott Brown supported the Rainbow Laces campaign

Brown’s support comes as Scottish and English players took to the field this weekend wearing rainbow tie-ups as part of the Rainbow Laces Week of Action.

Teams wear the colourful laces to help change attitudes in their sport and “make sure that LGBT people are welcomed and accepted at all levels of the game”.

In August, the outspoken Celtic captain told how he’d “love to see a player come out at Celtic”.

At the time, he said: “Celtic are a big club and we welcome anybody.

“No matter who you are, what you are or where you come from, we’d welcome you with open arms.

“It’s a big family club. The club is open to anybody.

“Being gay or bisexual shouldn’t matter in football. As soon as you put that strip on, you’re one of us.

“No matter who you are, you’re a Celtic player.

“It must be so hard for a gay footballer.

“They say there’s one in every changing room and to hide it must be tough.

“I hope that someone does feel comfortable to come out, because I can’t imagine having to hide who you are.

“Not coming out to the lads around you must be so hard but I know that at Celtic Park we would be accepting, no matter what.”

Scottish Conservative equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells said she was “delighted” to see Brown continually highlight the issue.

She said: “This is a big step for someone like Scott Brown to challenge homophobia and speak about his personal experiences where friends have struggled.

“Regardless of what team you support, we should all back Scott and the campaign.”

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