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Ex-Germany star Thomas Hitzlsperger reveals he is gay

Thomas Hitzlsperger

Thomas Hitzlsperger

Thomas Hitzlsperger has become the most high-profile footballer to reveal he is gay.

The 31 year old former German international made the announcement in an interview with German newspaper ZEIT published on Wednesday.

Hitzlsperger retired from professional football in September 2013 and he felt it was “a good time” to reveal his homosexuality.

“I’m coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards,” the German told.

“It’s been a long and difficult process. Only in the last few years have I realised that I preferred living together with a man.”

“In England, Italy and Germany being a homosexual is no big thing, at least not in the dressing room,” he continued.

“I was never ashamed of being who I am. 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.”

“Being gay is topic that is ‘ignored’ in football and not ‘a serious topic in the changing room’. Fighting spirit, passion and winning mentality are intrinsically linked, that doesn’t fit the cliché: ‘Gays are soft!'”

Hitzlsperger started his football career at VfB Forstinning, before he went on to play for the youth team of FC Bayern Munich. He left the club to join Aston Villa in 2000, where he made his way through to the senior team and played 99 matches in the English Premiership. His journey in club football continued with spells at VfB Stuttgart, S.S. Lazio, West Ham United, VfL Wolfsburg and Everton FC.

Hitzlsperger has also won 52 caps for Germany and he represented his country at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the 2008 UEFA EURO.