Jankto: Football’s most prominent player to come out as gay
Jakub Jankto, a Czech international footballer who has come out as gay, is an entrepreneur running several businesses who happily admits to being “a workaholic.”
Besides playing top-tier football, the 27-year-old left-winger owns a gaming team and a mobile game project and invests in real estate. He also ran a bar in Prague.
“I’m a workaholic. I don’t like people telling me they don’t work at weekends. If they don’t, they can go,”He said in a rare newspaper interview in October, 2021.
Jankto, who is on loan at Sparta Prague from La Liga side Getafe, revealed he was gay in an emotional video on social networks on Monday.
“I am homosexual and I no longer want to hide myself,”
“Like everybody else, I also want to live my life in freedom, without fears, without prejudice, without violence, (but) with love,”Jankto said in English.
Jankto is one of a handful of professional footballers who have publicly come out as gay while playing, and the first active international player to do so.
The announcement came two years after he split with his girlfriend with whom he has a three-year-old son, David.
Jankto came through the youth system at Slavia Prague but never really got the chance to prove himself.
He moved to Italy aged 18 to play for Udinese in Serie A but was quickly loaned to second-tier side Ascoli for a year.
“I was used to getting help from my parents and suddenly I was alone for everything,”
“So it was a bit of a shock, the first two months were really tough.”Jankto said.
‘Happy to be here’
Upon his return to Udinese, he scored his first Serie A goal in a 2-1 loss to Juventus in October 2016.
“I will never forget that, it was the first top-flight goal, moreover in Serie A, at a packed Juventus stadium and against (Gianluigi) Buffon on top of that,” beamed Jankto.
He moved from Udinese to Sampdoria in 2018, first on loan and then permanently, staying for three years.
In total, Jankto scored 17 goals in 155 Serie A games before moving to Getafe on a two-year deal in 2021.
“Getafe is a family club. Everything works fine here and I’m happy to be here,”Jankto said.
But he only managed 13 games for the Madrid side which narrowly escaped relegation, while Jankto, grappling with injuries, was moved to the left side of the back four to his dismay.
‘Score against Buffon’
Last summer, Jankto was offered an escape route by Slavia’s arch-rivals Sparta Prague, signing a one-year loan deal which he is hoping to turn into a permanent one.
“I simply wanted to go back home. It is really tough to spend eight years abroad,”He said.
Jankto made an immediate impact on the international scene scoring on his debut in a 3-0 win over Lithuania in 2017 — he has scored four goals in 45 appearances for his country to date — and was part of the squad that reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.
Outside of football Jankto says he is especially energised by the gaming sphere.
He has founded the Sampi esports team and built a gaming house near Prague for his players.
He has also invested in the Live Penalty project offering a mobile game in which players shoot penalties at real-life goalkeepers.
“I see the biggest potential in connecting virtual reality with the real world. I have enjoyed this since I was ten,”
“It’s a Czech app that allows you to mingle with famous players and clubs. And score against Buffon.”Jankto says about Live Penalty.