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

P

arish is the man to blame for this shambles. Pulis must be chuckling into his left over turkey sandwich. I pray this doesn't mean the Neil Warnock media machine will kick in now and he'll be back on the telly box.

magicfuller
Warnock sacked by Palace

W

e almost found a new way to lose, just when I thought it was getting boring Giroud does that. Although Arsenal are deservedly called 'soft' the entire midfield is out injured. Still must admit MU are managing to win despite a similar raft of absentees. Think the Gunners have good players but poorly coached.

gettalong
Wenger: Giroud deserved red

I

really enjoyed this. Thanks F365 for another year of work avoidance - happy Christmas.

megabrow (cufc)
Our Person Of The Year: Alan Pardew

Footer 365

Paul Lambert: Aston Villa's new style here to stay despite lack of goals

Paul Lambert is sure the goals will come for Aston Villa if they persist with their current style of football.

Bobby Zamora tells QPR to give Charlie Austin a new contract

Bobby Zamora has told QPR to sort out Charlie Austin's future before his goals attract bids from elsewhere.

Jose Mourinho: It's only a matter of time before John Terry gets new contract

John Terry will definitely stay at Chelsea beyond the end of his current deal, Jose Mourinho says.

Mail Box

Van Gaal's Half-Term Report Card...

One Man United fan isn't happy with the rate the team is progressing under Louis van Gaal, while the mailbox also wishes Liverpool fans a Merry Mid-Table Christmas...

Hang On, Rafa's Success Is No Fluke...

The afternoon mailbox kicks the morning mailbox's arse after claims that Rafa Benitez has fluked his success. Plus, big talk about Liverpool's progress and lots more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property