Footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger opens up about coming out as gay in candid interview

Germany's midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger shouts during the World Cup 2010 qualifying match Liechtenstein vs Germany in Vaduz, Liechtenstein on September 6, 2008.AFP PHOTO DDP / OLIVER LANG (Photo credit should read OLIVER LANG/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Aston Villa player and out footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has spoken about the “intense” first few days after he came out as gay in the spotlight.

Hitzlsperger, who also played for Everton, came out as gay in 2014, making him the highest-profile footballer to do so to date.

“The first few days were intense with all the media requests. But soon after, life continued to be not much different. The biggest challenge for me was to find a new passion after football and a job I liked. I am glad I didn’t take too long,” the sportsman said in an interview with GQ Style.

Football has been a slow adopter of gay rights, and there is not a single player out as gay, bi or trans in the Premier League.

Although Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign has garnered support from some of the Premiership’s top footballers, Hitzlsperger came out when he retired from the League.

In spite of this, the footballer believes that the game as a whole has got better at tackling prejudice since he shared his news.

“The football world is discussing all of these areas more openly than ever before. Not always do we see progress, but it is more clearly evident that people are willing to change the environment to a more accepting one.

“My focus is on those persons and those establishments that do good and less on the ones that are stuck in their outdated prejudices,” he added to the publication.

According to Stonewall, 72 percent of football fans have heard homophobic language used at a match in the last five years.

(PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The World Cup will be hosted in Russia this year.

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