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German Pro Footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger: I'm Gay


Retired 31-year-old German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has become the most high-profile European footballer to come out of the closet, telling German newspaper Die Zeit that he's gay and wants to talk publicly to raise awareness about homosexuality among professional athletes, the Guardian reports:

Said Hitzlesperger: "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."

He added:

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 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...Being gay is topic that is 'ignored' in football and not 'a serious topic in the changing room'. Fighting spirit, passion and winning mentality are intrinsically linked, that doesn't fit the cliché: 'Gays are soft'."

The Guardian notes that Hitzlsperger played in the German national team 52 times including in a World Cup and European Championship, and retired just four months ago.

The BBC notes that Hitzlsperger is just the fourth footballer to come out:

In February 2013, former United States and Leeds United winger Robbie Rogers said he was gay.

Swedish lower league player Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, publicly announced his homosexuality in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.

And in 1990, former England Under-21 international Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to reveal he was gay. He took his own life eight years later, aged 37.

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  1. " ...I realised that I preferred living together with a man."
    I hate to tell you this, Thomas, but there's a lot of straight guys that would prefer living with a man.

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Jan 8, 2014 8:04:50 AM

  2. Seems like an odd choice of wording. I also don't understand when people say they only realized they liked men when they were 10-20 years past puberty, especially in a country where it's "no big deal." But to each his own. I wish him well.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 8, 2014 8:07:00 AM

  3. It's a language/translation thing...what he's saying is it was only recently that he realized he preferred only men. He was probably playing the bi game with himself.

    Posted by: Mike | Jan 8, 2014 8:21:12 AM

  4. His nickname is "Der Hammer." Make of that what you will.

    This is actually a pretty big deal. He's very well known in Germany and the first German player to officially come out. Just a few years ago it was reported (on this very site!) that "a bunch" of German soccer players were gay, which was partly credited to their elegant playing style. Well, now we know one of them.

    Alas, Hitzlsperger never actually played at a World Cup; he only played in World Cup qualifying matches, but he was crucial in helping Germany qualify.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 8, 2014 8:57:38 AM

  5. Thanks for the clarification CRISPY! I look forward to your posts here, they regularly inform or entertain or both.

    Posted by: HERMES | Jan 8, 2014 9:28:18 AM

  6. I wish we could drop Justin Fashanu from the list. He was never a great player and he killed himself while on the run to avoid arrest and prosecution for rape of a minor male in Maryland. Hardly a role model we should be drawing attention to.

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Jan 8, 2014 9:36:53 AM

  7. I am devastated.

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 8, 2014 9:40:27 AM

  8. "which was partly credited to their elegant playing style"...
    Then Spain must be full of gay players :)

    Posted by: Marco | Jan 8, 2014 9:41:05 AM

  9. "which was partly credited to their elegant playing style"...
    Then Spain must be full of gay players :)

    Posted by: Marco | Jan 8, 2014 9:41:05 AM

  10. Well I am happy for him, coming out while playing seems still be too much to handle.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Jan 8, 2014 10:00:30 AM

  11. I wouldn't call Spain's play "elegant." Their tiki-taka style of play is fast-paced, compact, and aggressive. Spain also suffers from 1 or 2 divers (Busquets is the worst), and Sergio Ramos gets a lot of dirty tackles in.

    That said, I'd love it if Spain had gay players! Xabi Alonso, call me.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 8, 2014 10:01:39 AM

  12. Mikeboston: Justin Fashanu didn't hang himself because he's was a rapist, you turd.

    He committed suicide because he was ridiculed (once by his own coach) for being gay, rejected by his family, and arrested on sketchy charges that he feared he wouldn't get a fair trail for, which he wouldn't have considering gay sex, consensual or not, was still illegal when the incident occurred (this was prior to Lawrence v. Texas). Show some respect for something you clearly know nothing about.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 8, 2014 10:12:55 AM

  13. Good for him, I just wish that my boys Everton had acquired him earlier in his career.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Jan 8, 2014 10:23:30 AM

  14. Good for him! This is just one step on the way to make it easier for a professional footballer to come out whilst he is still playing in Germany and the rest of Europe. Thomas Hitzlberger has all my respect!

    Posted by: RonCharles | Jan 8, 2014 10:41:49 AM

  15. It is not a language/translation thing. In fact, he is noted for his fluent colloquial English because he speaks with a Birmingham accent that he picked up while playing for AVFC.

    Posted by: Quicksilver | Jan 8, 2014 10:49:24 AM

  16. Sad Thomas felt as if he needed to retire. This will further the conversation of gay players within football and that's always a plus. You need visibility and outspoken voices to break barriers. But the fact Thomas clearly couldn't come out while active shows there's still much work to do.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 8, 2014 11:11:24 AM

  17. Once again the retirement thing...Stay and play!!!

    Posted by: Ankerich | Jan 8, 2014 11:23:55 AM

  18. I have had the pleasure of meeting him at a small dinner of friends. It was common knowledge, but I guess it was time to come-out.

    What a gentleman with a wicked sense of humour!

    Posted by: BRAINS | Jan 8, 2014 11:27:55 AM

  19. Call Robbie!

    Posted by: GANYMEDE | Jan 8, 2014 11:47:37 AM

  20. @ Crispy

    There was nothing sketchy about the charges files in Howard County MD. What is sketchy is a 37 y.o. man giving drugs and alcohol to minors in his home; sexually assaulting one of said minors; being questioned by police then fleeing the country within 24 hours; attempting to hide in a monastery under an assumed name; and finally committing suicide after spending 36 hours straight in a gay sex club. All within a couple of weeks. Now that is sketchy.

    No question that Fashanu had a difficult childhood and that his brother John is a jerk with his own problems. But it doesn't excuse what he did.

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Jan 8, 2014 11:48:13 AM

  21. I wish he was still playing too, but he didn't retire because he was gay and coming out. He retired because he suffered a string of injuries that pretty much eliminated any playing time and caused him to be shuffled around to a number of different teams.

    He's also smarter than the average football player and has hinted in the past that he wanted to do something else.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 8, 2014 11:50:59 AM

  22. Right, Mike, because all unproven charges against gay people are without question legitimate.

    It was beer; there's no evidence whatsoever of "drugs and alcohol." The "minor" who accused him was 17, certainly not drinking age, but above the age of consent in Maryland where the incident occurred, but more importantly at an age in which it was common to deny having gay sex. And the police attempted to arrest him a week later with a warrant, not 24 hours.

    Log Cabin Republican much?

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 8, 2014 12:07:48 PM

  23. The NFL is in Germany?

    Posted by: DC Insider | Jan 8, 2014 12:12:35 PM

  24. Mizzes uh Ricardo issa her birthday too!

    Posted by: Enchantra | Jan 8, 2014 2:06:00 PM

  25. He had a girlfriend in 2008.

    Posted by: simon | Jan 8, 2014 2:44:55 PM

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