Earlier this year Thomas Hitzlsperger came out as gay and is the most high profile player to do so and today he turns 32.
Firstly it should not really matter what the sexuality of a footballer is but it did create a lot of news headlines and it is something that cannot be avoided and it is easy to see why the player decided to wait till he retired till he made the announcement.
It is quite sad that he may now be more known because of this rather than his very good football career which saw him win the Bundesliga, be part of the Germany squad to come runner up at Euro 2008 and third at the 2006 World Cup.
He started his career at Bayern Munich but unfortunately could not break into their squad and left for his first spell in England. It took him a short while to settle in England and a loan spell at Chesterfield was just what he needed to get used to physical side of the game. When he came back to Villa, manager Graham Taylor gave him a chance in the first team and he impressed the fans and became one of their favourites, earning him the nickname Der Hammer because of his long range shooting and the fact that nearly all of his goals were very powerful strikes.
After falling out of favour he joined Stuttgart and in his second season at the club he won the Bundesliga playing in 30 of their 34 league games and scoring seven times. He was then given the captain’s armband however this did not last as new manager Markus Babbel decided to take the team in a different direction and therefore Hitzlsperger had to leave the club to get more first team opportunities.
He only spent six months at his next club Lazio but scored once against Udinese in a 3-1 win. After this he came back to England and joined West Ham but injuries were catching up with the midfielder and he spent a lot of time on the sidelines but whenever he did play he produced some good performances, however they were not good enough to keep the team in the Premier League.
His career came to an end pretty soon after with short spells at Wolfsburg and Everton not leading to contract renewals and he decided to retire after, in his own words, “many transfers and some injuries”.
It would be easy to give the last word to the many people that commented on his decision to come out as gay because they were all very supportive however this has mostly focused on his career so the last word can go to his former Wolfsburg manager and the current Fulham manager Felix Magath after signing the German. “I am pleased he is now with us because he is a player that can lead the team and a player who will help us with his professional approach and international experience.”