'Never ashamed' - Former Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham star reveals he is gay

Thomas Hitzlsperger has revealed to German Magainze Die Zeit that he is homosexual.

Steven Davies, Matthew Mitcham and Gareth Thomas - all sportsmen who perform at the absolute pinnacle of their potential and highest levels of their respective sports - cricket, diving and rugby union. The other thing they all have in common is their sexuality - they are all gay.

In some sports the ‘taboo’ over homosexuality has begun to lose its sting. While not attempting to gloss over the wider ranging issues of sport in general the focus of homosexuality in football has always had a sinister undertone.

The stigma around the issue has certainly been a problem for many years - with players often believed to be scared to come out in case of reprisals from fans.

And you can understand why - with the reception Justin Fashanu received when he came out and the ultimate price it is believed he paid. But recently, former Leeds United winger Robbie Rogers came out and was surprised by the response he received - being widely positive.

And perhaps finally the curtain is falling on this draconian belief in homosexuality that envelopes the sport of football.

Because today, arguably the biggest name in professional football to come out as gay has done so.

Former Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham United midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced to German magazine Die Zeit that he is gay.

The 32-year-old, who has won 52 caps for Germany, is now only the fourth footballer to announce his sexuality to the world - following Fashanu, Anton Hysen and Rodgers.

He stated:

“It's been a long and difficult process. Only in the last few years have I realised that I preferred living together with a man. In England, Italy and Germany being a homosexual is no big thing, at least not in the dressing room. I was never ashamed of being who I am…"

It is a very brave and bold decision - and one he can be proud of to come out so publicly and hopefully a point will be reached in the future when a footballer revealing he is gay is no longer newsworthy.

Hitzlsperger retired from playing in September 2013.

Here are some of Hitzlsperger’s best bits …

image: © stefanbaudy

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