John Fashanu opens up about late brother on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins

"Everyday there's not a time when he doesn't come into my mind"

John Fashanu

Ex-footballer John Fashanu spoke about his upbringing and his older brother’s suicide during tonight’s episode of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.

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In episode two of the celebrity training process, the former Wimbledon player was called into the instructors‘ office after “losing control” during a physical challenge.

The celeb recruits went head-to-head to take possession of a tyre, however the exercise was ended prematurely after John held Rudimental’s Locksmith in a headlock, with the instructors noting: “Fashanu’s trying to strangle him, look.”

During his meeting with Chief Instructor Ant Middleton and Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox, John acknowledged: “I let myself down. I think to myself I’m 40, push push, you can do this but actually I’m 56.”

When asked about his childhood, John explained that he “grew up in a home” with his brother, former Norwich City footballer Justin Fashanu, and both were fostered in Norwich “with a white couple”.

He continued: “We were the only black kids in the whole of Norwich, you just don’t see black people there. The racial abuse was pretty heavy.”

Foxy then asked John about his brother, leading the recruit to open up about his death in 1998.

“He was the first black one million pound footballer, but he was gay. We could just not accept that at all as a family, the whole family,” he said.

Justin Fashanu playing for Norwich City in 1979. (Credit: Getty Images)
Justin Fashanu playing for Norwich City in 1979. (Credit: Getty Images)

Justin Fashanu died in 1998, aged 37. He was the first black footballer to command a one million pound transfer fee with his transfer from Norwich City to Nottingham Forest. He was also the first professional footballer to be openly gay, which he announced in 1990.

“He was outcast, with a big boot. I remember I paid him a substantial amount of money to not come out and say he was gay, so when he came out and said he was gay, that was a little bit too much,” John told the instructors.

When asked whether he found that hard, the footballer said he “found it impossible”.

He added: “Unfortunately, he then decided he couldn’t go on. God rest his soul, he committed suicide, he decided that was the best way out for himself.”

Ant asked whether John felt guilty about his brother’s death, to which he said yes. “Everyday there’s not a time when he doesn’t come into my mind.”

Speaking to camera, John said: “It was a very very sad time. You can go over it again and again, and you can pray and wish that you’d handled yourself differently, but we didn’t. What a waste.”

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There are now just nine celebrity recruits remain, after Katie Price, Anthea Turner and Conor Maynard left the competition during the series’ second episode.

Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins continues next Monday on Channel 4 at 9pm. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV Guide.
  • For help and support, you can contact the Samaritans for free on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.