With 52 caps for Germany, Thomas Hitzlsperger told German news publication Die Zeit yesterday that he is homosexual.
He is now the most well known footballer, the first to have graced the Premier League, to come out of the closet publicly and revealed that it was a “good time” to do so.
“I’m coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards,” he said.
The 31-year-old retired last year due to niggling injuries and commented that it wasn’t an easy process being gay as a sports professional.
“It’s been a long and difficult process. Only in the last few years have I realized that I preferred living together with a man.
“I was never ashamed of being who I am but it was not always easy to sit on a table with 20 young men and listen to jokes about gays.
“You let them get on with it as long as the jokes are somewhat funny and not too insulting.”
Only as recent as December the high profile British diver Tom Daley came out to further the debate by exposing that he is in a relationship with a man.
Hitzlsperger’s decision to open up has received support from many in the football world, saying that it was the brave and right thing to do.
Congratulations to Thomas Hitzlsperger on bravely being the first player to have played in the PL to ‘come out’ http://t.co/9boXWNpnFZ
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 8, 2014
Thomas Hitzlsperger has shown a lot of courage today. Sad times when people have to wait till they retire from their chosen profession…
— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) January 8, 2014