I hope more will come out – gay Prem star

Thomas Hitzlsperger. Photo: PA

Ciaran Fahey

Encouraged by others who have come out as gay, retired footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger is hoping going public will help make it easier for other sporting stars to do the same.

Homosexuality is seen as a major taboo is some sports.

"There is a long way to go because we fear a reaction and we don't know what will happen. I can't imagine playing football and doing this at the same time," Hitzlsperger (below) said.

He's no longer playing, but is still seen as the biggest name in football to say he is gay.

Hitzlsperger was a professional player in England, Germany and Italy, and played for Germany at the 2006 World Cup.

His decision to go public was hailed overwhelmingly as a positive step.

"Hopefully, by talking about it, it encourages some others, because they see they can still be professional football players, they can play at the highest level, and be gay," Hitzlsperger said in a video on his website. "It's not a contradiction, as I've proved."

FIFA, football's governing body, has acknowledged that there is still work to be done within the game itself.