Hitzlsperger: I am gay

Former Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has revealed he is gay.

Last Updated: 09/01/14 at 12:28

Thomas Hitzlsperger: Highest-profile footballer to reveal he is gay

Thomas Hitzlsperger: Highest-profile footballer to reveal he is gay

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Hitzlsperger is the highest-profile footballer to 'come out' and follows American Robbie Rogers, who revealed his sexuality last year.

Hitzlsperger won 52 caps for Germany and finished his career at Stuttgart last year, retiring because of injury.

In an interview with Germany's Die Zeit newspaper, he said: "It has been a long and difficult process... only in recent years has it dawned on me that I would prefer to live with another man."

Hitzlsperger, 31, says he does not know any other players in Germany who are gay.

"I'm coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards," Hitzlsperger said.

"I've never been ashamed of the way I am," he added, although he conceded it has not always been easy to live with some of the comments dished out on the subject.

"Just picture 20 men sat around a table together drinking - you've just got to let the majority be, just as long as the jokes are halfway funny and the talk about homosexuality doesn't get too insulting.

"In England, Germany or Italy, homosexuality is not taken seriously as an issue, at least not in the dressing room."

Aston Villa, the German's first English club, said on social media: "Everyone who knows Thomas from his time here at Villa has great respect for him, not only as the fine player he was but also as a man.

"His statement today is a straightforward statement and, along with our support as a club, we hope that everyone involved in the game extend to him their support as well."

While the Professional Footballers' Association said: "It is great that Hitzlsperger has discussed his sexual orientation openly. The PFA hope to learn from his experiences as a player."

Several footballers have voiced their support on social media, among them Arsenal's Lukas Podolski, who played alongside Hitzlsperger for Germany.

"Brave and right decision," he wrote. "Respect, Thomas Hitzlsperger. His outing is a important sign in our time."

QPR midfielder Joey Barton tweeted: "Thomas Hitzlsperger has shown a lot of courage today.

"Sad times when people have to wait till they retire from their chosen profession before they feel other people will judge them solely on who the human being is. Shame on all of us as a society."

Former England Under-21 international Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to come out in 1990 before he took his own life eight years later, aged 37.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova came out publicly as gay in 1981 while John Amaechi was the first NBA player to openly admit to being gay in 2007.

Ex-Wales rugby union captain Gareth Thomas, plus England and Surrey wicketkeeper Steven Davies, have come out in the last five years.

Olympic boxing gold medallist Nicola Adams topped the Independent's annual 'Pink List' poll of influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in November 2012.

And last month Tom Daley revealed he was in a relationship with a man, while two other Olympic divers have previously come out.

Australian Matthew Mitcham announced he was gay in 2008 shortly before he won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, and four-time Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis revealed he was gay following his retirement in 1995.

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

S

till reckon Chelsea will go for Khedira as back up for Matic. I think it will turn out to be quite a Mourihno-y window: We'll see the squad players and youth in action pre-season, say things like well, we need not buy anybody and then the club will bid £60m for Pogba and send everybody on loan.

tk421
F365's Transfer Guide - Part One

I

would love to be a fly on the wall at the meeting between Milner and Rodgers. I don't know if flies can count, but if they can then I would be counting the number of times Rodgers used the word outstanding in his attempts to get Milner to sign.

godzilla
Reds and Arsenal chase Milner

W

ell, it wouldn't be a summer without Arsenal fans fretting over losing a key player, and United throwing their weight around and muscling in on transfer deals which are (apparently) near to completion. If we can't be entertained by the football on the pitch, let's enjoy the silly off-pitch soap opera of the transfer season. Hurrah!

CamberleyGooner
The Back To It Gossip

Footer 365

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was sent letter from South African FA

Sky Sports News HQ has a copy of a letter sent from the South African FA to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Real Madrid are confident of landing David de Gea

Real Madrid are growing increasingly confident of signing Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

Agent: Benteke won't sign new Villa deal

Christian Benteke will turn down a new deal from Aston Villa and try force a move out of the club, his agent revealed during a prank phone call.

Mail Box

Liverpool 2015 Feels Like Liverpool 2011...

One Mailer says Benteke = Carroll, Bellamy = Milner and Clyne = Downing. Plus we have U21 Euro impatience, farewell Rio, Rafa Benitez, Milner, FIFA and title play-offs...

Calling Carlo For Liverpool... Please

One Liverpool Mailer wants a manager who isn't starstruck by the job. Plus why Milner has now become overrated, play-offs for the title, Ronaldinho and democracy..

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company