The German professional footballer, Thomas Hitzlsperger, has revealed he is gay in an interview with Die Zeit newspaper published today.
The 31-year-old former Aston Villa midfielder, who won 52 caps for Germany as well as having West Ham and Everton on his CV, is now the most prominent footballer to come out as gay, saying 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 told the German newspaper.
“I’ve never been ashamed of the way I am,” he added.
Openly-gay footballers are few and far between. In February of last year, former United States and Leeds United player, Robbie Rogers, said he was gay while Swedish footballer, Anton Hysén, came out in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011. Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in the UK to reveal he was gay in 1990, but sadly took his own life eight years later, aged 37.