• Football

Hitzlsperger announces he is gay

ESPN staff
January 8, 2014
Thomas Hitzlsperger stated he was gay in an interview with a German magazine © PA Photos

Former Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced he is gay following an interview with German magazine TIME.

Hitzlsperger, who also spent time in England with Everton and West Ham, won 52 caps for Germany and is only the fourth professional football player to publically disclose his sexuality.

Tide is turning, slowly but surely

  • Thomas Hitzlsperger's announcement is another step towards football becoming "normal". Normal in the sense that an employee can be gay and nobody bats an eyelid.
  • What is marked about both Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers making their announcements is that they waited to retire from playing before doing so. Rogers stated in an interview with the Guardian that he felt it was "impossible" to come out while still playing: "I was very fearful how my team-mates were going to react. Was it going to change them? Would it change the way they acted towards me - when we were in the dressing room or the bus?"
  • That fear is, slowly but surely, going to evaporate. The positive reaction and support shown towards Rogers, Tom Daley and what will surely follow for Hitzlsperger proves that. The day that an active player says he is gay and everyone just shrugs is getting closer.
  • Steven Saunders, Senior Editor, ESPN.co.uk

"I express myself to my homosexuality," Hitzlsperger told the magazine. "Because I understand the discussion of homosexuality seeks to promote professional athletes."

The 31-year-old stated it was a "long and difficult process" and that "only in the last couple of years have I come to realise that I would prefer to live with a man."

He maintained the nature of professional sport made it difficult to announce his sexuality, but that he had never been "ashamed" of being gay.

"I have never felt ashamed for what I am," he said. "[But] think about it again: just imagine - 20 young lads sit together and drink. Most of the time you just let them do as they like, as long as the jokes are fairly funny and the talk about homosexuals does not become massively insulting."

"In England, Germany or Italy homosexuality is not a serious issue."

In February 2013, ex-Leeds and United States winger Robbie Rodgers publically announced he was gay while Olympic diver Tom Daley recently became the first high-profile athlete to reveal he was in a relationship with a man.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close