The fourth professional footballer, former Premier League midfielder and Germany International Thomas Hitzlsperger, officially came out as gay this week.
Hitzlsperger, who retired in September, is the first former League player and first German footballer to come out. He told German newspaper, Die Zeit, why he realized now was the time to come out.
“I’m revealing my homosexuality because I want to promote the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes,” he said. “I think it is a good moment for it. With upcoming Olympics in Sochi, I think we need critical voices against campaigns of regimes who don’t tolerate homosexuals.”
Almost a year ago American midfielder Robbie Rogers became the first gay footballer to come out, retiring immediately after.
In 2007, Hitzlsperger was engaged to his longtime girlfriend, but broke up with her one month before the wedding.
“It has been a long and difficult process [of becoming aware of being gay],” Hitzlsperger said. “Only in recent it dawned on me that I would prefer to live with another man.”