Josh Cavallo expertly shuts down homophobes with his triumphant return to the soccer field after nearly a year

Josh Cavallo expertly shuts down homophobes with his triumphant return to the soccer field after nearly a year

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Josh Cavallo standing on the field in his red jersey.

It’s been nearly one year since Josh Cavallo tore his Achilles tendon, a gruesome injury for any athlete, but especially a soccer star.

On Monday, Cavallo returned to the pitch for the first time since the devastating setback, playing the final seven minutes of Adelaide United’s 1-1 draw with Macarthur FC.

When Cavallo took the field, the crowd at Coopers Stadium burst into a standing ovation. They were thrilled to see No. 27 back where he belongs.

“I feel great,” said Cavallo during his post-match interview. “I’ve got the biggest smile on my face right now because it was a hard road. It was a long road as well and taught me patience. I had great guidance from my partner and my family who got me how I am today. And I’m really proud I could step back on that field—just want to snag a goal next time!”

It was a brutal rehab for Cavallo, who had to re-learn basic physical movements post-surgery.

“You have to learn how to walk again. You’re on crutches, you’re in a moon boot for a long time. You become quite fragile and quite weak, and you have to build that back up again,” he said. “But it does make you grateful for the things you have around you. Just everyday things we get to do, we get to walk. Those are things I had to learn to do again. Stepping onto that field last night meant a lot to me, because it’s come a long way.”

While the physical rehab from an Achilles tear is hard enough, Cavallo was combating homophobic harassment as well. He opened up recently about the taunts he faced while sidelined.

“Being absent from football with a long term injury, the outside noise was present and unavoidable amongst this journey,” he posted on Instagram. “Sadly countless and endless death threats aimed to my everyday life and sexuality due to my football absence.” 

“I will never doubt the person I have become and WILL continue to wear who I am proud on my sleeves. I hope no one’s son or daughter will ever have to go through this experience. It is beyond vile.”

On the positive side, Cavallo says the overwhelming support support he received from his fans kept him going.

“To the people that were there endlessly with positivity. Thank you, you beautiful people,” he wrote. “I returned back with my team and on the rise for my return.”

Cavallo, who publicly came out as gay in 2021, has never been shy about using his platform to spread awareness about homophobia. The Australian midfielder frequently posts about human rights on his social media pages, calling attention to the plight of those who can’t safely come out.

Last month, Cavallo took his advocacy a step further, posting antigay missives he’s received, along with a heartfelt statement.

“I share my life via this social media platform to help individuals grow around the world. To feel empowered in their own skin. To be comfortable with the person they wish to be,” he wrote.

“I’m hand on heart so proud of how much my football club and the LGBTQIA+ community have grown in the world of football but we have to remember there is still a huge amount of work left.”

On the following slide, Cavallo posted 11 hateful Instagram comments, in which users call for him to be placed in a “mental asylum” and sent to hell.

Another person said they hope Cavallo is “disabled for the rest of his life.”

Cavallo returning to the field–and receiving an ovation to boot–was the strongest message he could send to the haters. As one of only five out gay male pro soccer players in the world (Zander Murray retired), he knows his visibility matters.

His next opportunity to take the field will come Saturday, and there are 14 games remaining after that.

The homophobes and haters better get ready to be proven wrong again and again.


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