GCN cover star Thomas Hitzlsperger has been named ‘Sportsperson of the year’ by 11Freunde in the same year that he came out as a gay man.
The 32 year-old German footballer was called a “trail blazer” by German Football Association president Wolfgang Niersbach, who praised Hitzlsperger’s courage at the awards ceremony held by the magazine last Saturday. “He made a very deliberate decision in going public”, Niersbach added.
Speaking about the risks involved in a professional sportsman coming out, Niersbach told, “We do not know what the reactions will be when a professional player comes out while still playing. I could never demand that a player comes out because this is a highly private matter. But if one does, we can only give them whatever support we can offer”.
In his acceptance speech, Hitzlsperger, who retired last September due to injuries, told the audience that his experience was mostly a positive one, saying “It was wonderful. Few have insulted me and those who have just motivate me even more to keep going”.
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