“There is vitriol towards him because he has decided that he is not ready for it.”

Gareth Thomas has revealed that he made contact with the closeted gay footballer.

Last month, an anonymous footballer opened a Twitter account under the name ‘The Gay Footballer’, claiming he was a Championship player under the age of 23 and would be “revealing [his] identity soon”.

But the night before he was expected to hold a press conference to announce his identity, he informed his more than 50,000 followers that the plan had changed, and that he would no longer be coming out.

“I thought I was stronger. I was wrong,” he wrote, before denying it was a hoax or publicity stunt. “Call me all the names under the sun, belittle me and ridicule me, a lot will, and I can’t change that, but I’m not strong enough to do this.”

“Just remember that I’ve got feelings, without coming out I can’t convince anybody otherwise, but this isn’t a hoax.”

Former professional rugby player Thomas, who came out as gay in December 2009, said he reached out to the footballer via his Twitter account and discussed his coming out with him on the phone.

“Away from the cameras, I reached out to him and offered him my support and gave him my number and he called me. I never asked him his name but he told me the club he played for,” he said.

“He is a young kid who had an understanding of who he was but didn’t have an understanding of where he fitted in. There is vitriol towards him because he has decided that he is not ready for it. But it is his decision to make.”

The Twitter account has now been deleted. Justin Fashanu remains the only British male player to have publicly come out will playing in the Football League in 1990. He later took his own life in 1998 at the age of 37.

Related: Rugby star Gareth Thomas reveals he was victim of homophobic attack.