Andre Gray has offered an “unreserved apology” for homophobic tweets he posted in 2012 that were shared on social media after the striker played a starring role in Burnley’s 2-0 win over Liverpool.
Gray, Burnley’s top scorer as they won the Championship title last season, created the opening goal for Sam Vokes at Turf Moor before opening his Premier League account with a well-taken second.
But his on-field contribution was quickly overshadowed after offensive social media posts made by the 25-year-old came to light.
Dating back to when Gray played for non-league side Hinckley United, one tweet read: “Is it me or are there gays everywhere? #Burn #Die #Makesmesick”.
The tweets were deleted later on Saturday and Gray issued a statement on Twitter, pleading forgiveness and stating he was a changed person to the man he was four years ago.
“Firstly, I want to offer a sincere and unreserved apology to anybody I may have offended in relation to these tweets,” the statement read.
“The tweets were posted four years ago when I was a completely different person to the man I am now.
“I was at a very different point in my life to back then – one that I’ve worked hard to move on from.
“Thankfully a lot has changed in my life since then. I have experience a lot over the past four years and have had to take responsibility for a number of things in my life, which has enabled me to mature and grow as a person since that time.
“I have a lot of regrets regarding a number of things I’ve done in the past and realise I have made some big mistakes, none more so than these tweets, but I would like to stress that I’ve worked incredibly hard to completely transform my life since that time.”
— Andre Gray (@AndreGray7) August 20, 2016
The statement added: “To clarify, I do not hold the beliefs written in those tweets whatsoever. I can assure everybody that I am absolutely not homophobic and, as said previously, I can only apologise and ask for forgiveness to anyone I offended.
“Thankfully I am not the guy I was back then and will continue to work hard both on and off the pitch to become a better person.”
After Gray addressed the issue, Burnley issued a statement of their own, which read: “Burnley Football Club has this evening been made aware of historical social media posts by Andre Gray, made prior to the player joining the club.
“The club would like to make it clear we do not condone any discriminatory behaviour by any employee. The club also fully supports the FA’s Football v Homophobia campaign.
“However, as Andre has made clear in a statement on his personal account, these are social posts from four years ago, and in this time he has completely transformed his life.
“The player has also apologised and denied he is, in any way, shape or form homophobic.
“Burnley Football Club will make no further statement on this matter.”
Last month, Gray used Twitter to criticise two Burnley fans following allegations of racist abuse during a pre-season friendly at Bradford.
Following the incident, one of the men in question was given an indefinite ban from Burnley home and away matches by the club.