Thomas Hitzlsperger gay: Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski, Joey Barton and Gary Lineker offer their support
Podolski said the outing is an 'important sign of our time'
The Arsenal and Germany forward Lukas Podolski has gone public in his support for former international colleague Thomas Hitzlsperger, who has come out as homosexual, saying that his outing is an "important sign of our time".
England great Gary Lineker also offered kind words for the former Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton player, while Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton praised Hitzlsperger's courage, but said it was a shame he had to announce it after he ended his playing career.
Hitzlsperger, who retired in September having made 52 appearances for Germany, is only the fourth professional footballer to come out as gay after Justin Fashanu, America's Robbie Rogers, and Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool winger Glenn Hysen.
"Brave and right decision. Respect, Thomas Hitzlsperger," Poldolski tweeted today. "His outing is a important sign in our time."
Lineker added his congratulations to the 31-year-old, who made 117 appearances in the Premier League between 2001 and 2013 and remains one of four German players who have played for three different teams in the English top flight - along with Dietmar Hamann, Robert Huth and Christian Ziege.
VIDEO: Thomas Hitzlsperger hopes to encourage others...
"Congratulations to Thomas Hitzlsperger on bravely being the first player to have played in the Premier League to 'come out'," Lineker wrote.
Barton, while pleased of the decision that Hitzlsperger made, was angry that he only felt comfortable to go public after retiring, just like the former Leeds United winger Rogers. Rogers, however, has since cancelled his retirement and now plays for Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy.
"Thomas Hitzlsperger has shown a lot of courage today. Sad times when people have to wait till they retire from their chosen profession," Barton tweeted.
"Before they feel other people will judge them solely on who the human being is. Shame on all of us as a society."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal players boo chief-executive Ivan Gazidis after being told they would not get bonus for FA Cup triumph
Brendan Rodgers future: Odds shorten on Liverpool manager being sacked, despite Jurgen Klopp announcement
Liverpool transfer news: James Milner nearing Anfield switch, but club baulk at £32.5m Christian Benteke release clause
Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
Betting company 'refuse to pay' after student wins £1,000 from 50p bet on Roger Federer
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 2 Charles Kennedy dead: Former Lib Dem leader dies at home aged 55 - latest news
- 3 Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
- 4 Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
- 5 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history