Thomas Hitzlsperger: Former Germany international hopes revelation about his sexuality will 'move the discussion forward'

Hitzlsperger revealed on Wednesday that he is gay and hopes that the widespread acceptance will help to progress the discussion of homosexual sportspeople forward

Thomas Hitzlsperger hopes that revealing he is gay will advance the “discussion” about sexuality in sport.

The former Aston Villa, West Ham, Everton and Germany midfielder, who ended his playing career in September due to persistent injuries, revealed his sexuality on Wednesday.

In an interview which will be published in full in Die Zeit newspaper on Thursday, the 31-year-old said,: "I'm coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards."

Hitzlsperger added that he only realised "in the past few years" that he would "prefer to live together with another man".

"I've never been ashamed of the way I am," he said, although he conceded it has not always been easy to live with comments 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," he said.

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

Ex-NBA player John Amaechi, who came out in 2007, took to Twitter to welcome Hitzlsperger to "the club".

But Amaechi later told BBC Sport: "Football is toxic and not just for gay people - it's toxic for Asians who want to play the game, it's toxic for women who want to be executives, it's toxic for black people who want to do anything but play.

"But football doesn't see itself like that. It sees itself as this amazing, wonderful, bold and progressive organisation.

"Footballers coming out at the highest level will happen only as the product of a cultural change within the game. It will not be the precursor to cultural change.

"If you want to see people coming out and playing at their best because they're able to be who they are, then the culture of football must change first."

German Football Association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach told the DFB's website: "Thomas Hitzlsperger was always a role model during his time as a Germany international and I always had the greatest of respect for him, and now that respect has grown even more."

Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff, one of the first people within the game Hitzlsperger confided in, added: "I welcome this step and we will give him all the support he needs to be able to follow his courageous path."

But former Chelsea defender Alex, now with Paris St Germain, made apparently homophobic comments - though not aimed at Hitzlsperger - in a documentary entitled "Jesus Football Club" which was to be broadcast on Canal+ on Wednesday evening.

Brazilian Alex reportedly discussed homosexuality during the programme about sport and religion, saying: "God wouldn't have created Adam and Eve but Adam and Yves."

Outspoken QPR midfielder Joey Barton, formerly of PSG's rivals Marseille, tweeted in response: "To be religious extremist, you must first be extremely dumb in my opinion.

"Alex from PSG simply confirms my theory with his comments today."

PA

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
Louis van Gaal at the Hawthorns prior to Manchester United's game against West Brom
football

Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture

News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past