Meet Jonny Saelua – the first transgender footballer in World Cup history

“I’ve really got a female starting at centre back. Can you imagine that in England or Spain?” - American Samoa coach Thomas Rongen.

American Samoa’s 2-1 win over Tonga on Wednesday in Oceania World Cup qualifying was not only historic for being the first time they had ever won a competitive game in FIFA competition.

Incredibly, and this could open up a whole can of worms for Sepp Blatter, American Samoa fielded a transgender footballer called Johnny “Jayieh” Saelua.

Although there are no records for this type of information, Saelua is believed to be he first transgender player to compete in a World Cup qualifying match.

According to assorted media, Saelua is part of the fa’afafine, biological males who identify as a third sex that is widely accepted in Polynesian culture.

The American Samoa defender was raised as a woman and said after the World Cup match: “The team accept me and we have that mutual respect. Which is great. It’s all part of the culture.”

Probably the most brilliant part of this story, concerning the win over Tonga, was that Saelua was named “man of the match,” providing an assist for the opening goal and crucially making a hugely important goal line clearance in the final seconds of the encounter.

Related link: Next Goal Wins – The Beginning – Trailer for new film on American Samoa international team.

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