Footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger Announces That He Is Gay
The former Aston Villa, West Ham, and Everton player retired earlier this year. He is the most prominent gay footballer to state his sexuality.
German international footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced that he is gay in an interview with the newspaper Die Zeit.
Hitzlsperger told Die Ziet that he made the statement because he wants to "advance the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes".
He follows the lead of ex-Leeds United player Robbie Rogers, who quit the sport and announced he was gay in early 2013.
But there is still no publicly gay footballer who plays in one of the world's top leagues.
British football has been badly affected by the legacy of Justin Fashanu, who announced he was gay in 1990 and found himself ostracised by parts of his family and some players.
And only yesterday Michael Johnson stood down from his role on a Football Association equality panel after footage emerged of him saying "homosexuality is detestable unto the Lord".
Hitzlsperger is hoping that his decision will lead to change in the future.