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."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert