Former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, 31, has come out as gay. He's the first soccer player in Germany to do so. His coming out was in an interview with newspaper Die Zeit. Between 2004 and 2010, he played in 52 games for the German national team.
"I'm coming out about my homosexuality because I want to move the discussion about homosexuality among professional sportspeople forwards," he added.
Hitzlsperger, who retired in December due to injuries, said he has only realized "in the past few years" that he would "prefer to live together with another man… "I've never been ashamed of the way I am," he added, although locker room-type talk amongst athletes has been disheartening to him.
"Just picture 20 men sat around a table together drinking - you've just got to let the majority be, just as long as the jokes are halfway funny and the talk about homosexuality doesn't get too insulting," he said.
Unfortunately, like so many now-out athletes, he made the announcement upon retirement. Other out soccer players have included English player Justin Fashanu who came out in 1990, and sadly committed suicide eight years later; American player Robbie Rogers; and Swedish player Anton Hysen. Both Hysen and Rogers are currently active players.