Former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger has revealed that he is gay and urged athletes to be more transparent regarding their sexuality.
The 31-year-old, who recently ended his career after spells with Aston Villa, Stuttgart, Lazio, West Ham, Wolfsburg and Everton, feels that homosexuality remains a taboo in the footballing world.
But, following former USA international Robbie Rogers's coming-out in 2012, Hitzlsperger has opted to follow suit and says that it has taken years to find the courage to do so.
"I am speaking up about my homosexuality because I want to get the discussion about homosexuality among athletes going," he told Zeit.
"It was a long and difficult process to realise that I am homosexual. Only in the past few years did I reach the conclusion that I prefer living with another man.
"Homosexuality is not a serious issue in England, Germany and Italy, at least not in the dressing room.
"I have never felt ashamed that I am homosexual."