Thomas Hitzlsperger, in an interview in German paper Die Zeit, has announced today that he is gay. This makes the former Stuttgart captain, who also played in England just last season, the highest-profile soccer player to come out as gay.
On Twitter he summed up his motivations for coming out at this time:
I feel now of all time is the right time to break the news too. I now wish this is the start of many more who feel pressure to break it. TH
— Thomas Hitzlsperger (@ThomasHitzl) January 8, 2014
Update, 5:50 p.m.: Apparently Hitzlsperger isn't on Twitter. The account up there is fake. Weird.
According to The Guardian, when asked about how homosexuality was treated among the players, he had this to say:
Being gay is topic that is 'ignored' in football and not 'a serious topic in the changing room.' I was never ashamed of being who I am but it was not always easy to sit on a table with 20 young men and listen to jokes about gays. You let them get on with it as long as the jokes are somewhat funny and not too insulting.
Hitzlsperger amassed 52 caps for the German national team and was the captain of the Stuttgart team that won the 2006-07 Bundesliga title.