Recently retired professional German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has been honored by football magazine 11Freunde as its sportsperson of the year after he made the decision to come out publicly as gay in January this year.
German Football Association president Wolfgang Niersbach praised Hitzlsperger’s courage at an awards ceremony held by the magazine on Saturday.
‘Thomas is a trail blazer,’ Niersbach said, presenting the award, ‘He made a very deliberate decision in going public.’
'This should no longer be a taboo topic … We do not know still, what the reactions will be when a professional player comes out while still playing. I would never demand that a player come out because this is a highly private matter. But if one does, we can only give them whatever support we can offer and is asked for.’
Hitzlsperger said in his acceptance speech, ‘There were a lot of positive reactions [to my coming out], it was wonderful.’
‘Few have insulted me me and those who have just motivate me even more to keep going.’
Hitzlsperger came out publicly just months after retiring due to injuries in September of last year