Former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger announces he is gay 5 years ago

Former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger announces he is gay

The former German international has given an interview to TIME where he speaks about his sexuality for the first time.

When Thomas 'Der Hammer' Hitzlsperger retired from the game in September, aged just 31, fans from his days at Aston Villa and elsewhere were saddened that he had to bow out so soon due to a series of injuries. Capped 52 times for Germany, the midfielder, with an eye for goal with his famous left foot, also played for West Ham, Everton, Stuttgart  and Lazio but his career was plagued by injuries and we expected we had seen the last of him in the media.

We were wrong, as Hitzlsperger is about to be on every back page in the world real soon. Zeit Online today have broken a story that Hitzlsperger has given an interview to TIME magazine where he announces he is gay, speaks about his time in the game and why he has decided to talk about it now.

The full interview will be published in the magazine tomorrow but the few quotes we have been able to Google Translate makes it clear that this has been a tough road to this point for the German.

He called his journey "a long and difficult process" and "only in recent years dawned on me that I would rather live with a man". He goes on to speak about his time in the game and why he didn't discuss his sexuality when he was a player. "Struggle, passion and will to win are inextricably linked. They do not fit the stereotype that many people made up by a homosexual, namely: Gays are sissies."

However, he goes on to say that he didn't think being gay would be that much of an issue for players. "In England, Italy and Germany being a homosexual is no big thing, at least not in the dressing room," he said.

Hitzlsperger also says that he wants to discuss homosexuality in sport and that is why he has spoken now. Of course, this shouldn't be a big deal in 2014 and we don't expect it will be.

Fair play to Hitzlsperger for speaking about such a personal matter and we're looking forward to reading the full interview when it hits the shelves tomorrow.