Former Germany player Hitzlsperger says he's gay; hopes athletes talk more about homosexuality

Former Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger says he is gay.

In an interview published by Die Zeit newspaper on Wednesday, Hitzlsperger says "I am expressing my sexuality because I want to promote the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes."

The 31-year-old Hitzlsperger says he felt now was the right time, four months after retirement following a career in England, Italy and Germany, to approach a subject he feels is "simply ignored."

Hitzlsperger played 52 games for Germany from 2004-11. He also played for Aston Villa, Stuttgart, Lazio and Wolfsburg.

He says "only in the last few years did it dawn on me that I would rather live with a man."