The Englishman committed suicide in 1998, aged 37 -- just eight years after announcing that he was gay. He had become the first £1 million black player when he joined Nottingham Forest in 1981.
Speaking at a sports forum in Berlin last September, German chancellor Angela Merkel urged gay players to feel confident enough to "come out."
Her comments came following an article in a German magazine in which an anonymous gay Bundesliga player said the fear of added media attention was the reason why he hadn't announced his sexuality.
German second division team FC St. Pauli placed itself on the front line of football's battle with homophobia during a match with Paderborn.
Fans of the club, formerly run by openly gay president Corny Littmann, staged a demonstration against discrimination which included brightly-colored posters and a banner reading, "Football is everything -- even gay."
Basketballer Jason Collins recently made history by becoming the first openly gay NBA player, while the NHL has drawn plaudits for its anti-homophobia work.
Fifteen years on from Fashanu's suicide, with other sports such as rugby and basketball setting a precedent and with the NFL reportedly closer than ever to having a homosexual player, is the beautiful game ready for a high-profile gay star?
"Why not?" replied Urban. "It is a great opportunity for the football world to show now that it is ready. Associations and clubs can come out as 'gay-friendly'. Then players, officials, coaches, referees and so many others will follow.
"The effects of outings gay footballers will go far beyond football."
After years of torment and secrecy, Urban's coming out proved to be a turning point. With new-found confidence, he was able to pursue a life away from the football pitch.
Urban has told his story in the book "Hidden Player: The story of a gay footballer," while he is also something of a life coach, consulting with organizations -- including football associations -- on issues of diversity and integration.
"I was so glad to finally be myself and I finally knew what the years of torment had been about," he explained. "With the energy and force of liberation I went on the front foot, on the offensive.
"I work as a personal coach and diversity consultant. I work for organizations and I help them to appreciate the dimensions of age, ethnicity, gender, religion and even sexual orientations."
With a wealth of personal and professional expertise on the subject of "coming out," Urban is in a unique position to offer advice to any player in a similar situation to the one he found himself in two decades ago.
According to Urban, former Wales international rugby player Gareth Thomas -- who told the world he was gay in 2009 -- has set out the perfect blueprint for others to follow.
"He proceeded in stages," Urban said of Thomas. "First he outed himself to his wife. Then he told his coach and then two players. After each step he received positive feedback.
"He was told by everyone that he was still the same person. This enabled him to increase his self-esteem until it was big enough to go public. He then got exceptionally positive feedback."
An openly gay football star would be a turning point not just for the sport, declares Urban, but also for society as a whole.
Football, he suggests, stretches into areas where attitudes towards homosexuality have so far proved difficult to change.
"Football is the only way to tackle this topic comprehensively," he said. "Very many people are geared towards football role models on television.
"If world soccer stars accepted their homosexuality, young people would question having to be so rough and macho.
"The result would be a social change that goes far beyond football."
Urban is now comfortable with his sexuality, but he is not impervious to the homophobic barbs he often overhears in general conversation.
"'F****, f****t', any negative way of calling someone gay," replies Urban when asked which insults he hears. "I was constantly affected by insults. Although it is not said to me directly it concerns me, even today."
"But today, with more self-esteem and confidence, I look at homophobia from the perspective of a personal coaches and diversity consultant. Sometimes I have to laugh about it too, because it's stupid and ridiculous."