German international footballer Thomas Hitzsperger has confessed to being gay in an interview with TIME magazine.
“I express myself to my homosexuality,” Hitzlsperger said in an interview appearing on the Thursday edition of TIME.
Understanding his sexuality was a “a long and difficult process” for the 31-year-old German midfielder who made 52 appearances for Germany from 2004 to 2010.
“Only in recent years has it dawned on me that I would rather live with a man,” says Hitzlsperger. The midfielder retired from football in September 2013 due to recurring injuries and has now become the most high profile footballer to come out in the open about being homosexual.
Hitzlsperger, who played for Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton in England, says that the issue is not treated seriously in many of the top European footballing countries.
“In England, Germany or Italy homosexuality is not a serious issue, not in the cabin at any rate,” Hitzlsperger recalls.
Hitzlsperger, since 2009, has been a columnist for TIME ONLINE. In the interview series Everything But Football he talks about a few relevant social issues and tries to give a fresh perspective to football. Most recently, he has spoken about doping, excessive salaries and also about homosexuality in football.