Hitzlsperger became the biggest footballer to announce he is gay.
“I am talking about being gay because I want to move forward the discussion about homosexuality among professional sports stars,” he told German newspaper Die Zeit, adding that coming to accept he is gay was “a long and difficult process,” but that he has “never been ashamed” of it.
“It is only in the last few years I have realized I would rather live with a man.”
“I was never ashamed of being who I am but it was not always easy to sit at 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.”
He also said that an openly gay footballer, for “the vast majority” of fans, “probably wouldn’t be a problem.”
Of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia, Hitzlsperger says, “I think multiple voices are required against the campaigns mounted by several governments against homosexuals.”
In February of last year American pro soccer star Robbie Rogers came out. He now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy.