The world of sport is reacting to an historic first today as the first former premier league football player, Thomas Hitzlsperger, comes out as gay.
The handsome German played for Premier League sides Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham before retiring in September of last year due to injury problems.
The news makes him the highest ranking football/soccer player to come out as gay, to date. Speaking to Germany’s Die Zeit, he said:
“I’m coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards.”
He said that he’d realised only “in the past few years” that he would “prefer to live together with another man”, adding: “I’ve never been ashamed of the way I am.”
The Gay Footballer’s Supporters Network said: “It shows that we are moving one step closer to creating that atmosphere in football where players at all levels would be able to come out should they want to, safely and free from discrimination.
“We hope that one day current players would feel able to come out and that eventually a player’s sexual orientation not be a news story, but for now we wish Thomas Hitzlesperger well.”
Stonewall’s Sam Dick spoke to BBC Sport about the news. He said: “It’s fantastic that he has been brave enough to openly discuss his sexual orientation.
“Every sports star who is willing to speak out makes it just that little bit easier for gay players and fans, and we hope, a new generation of footballers will feel confident enough to be themselves.”
With Tom Daley recently coming out, and now Thomas Hitzlsperger, perhaps 2014 will see a trend of professional sportspeople coming out. We can only hope.