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Former World Cup soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger of Germany says he's gay


BERLIN -- A former World Cup player from Germany became the biggest name in soccer to come out as gay, saying he wants to break down the stigma of homosexuality in sports.

Thomas Hitzlsperger, a former midfielder who played in England's Premier League and in Germany, made the announcement Wednesday in a German newspaper four months after his retirement from the game.

"I am expressing my sexuality because I want to promote the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes," Hitzlsperger told Die Zeit.

The 31-year-old Hitzlsperger said he felt now was the right time to approach a subject he felt was "simply ignored."

"Only in the last few years did it dawn on me that I would rather live with a man," said Hitzlsperger, the first German player to announce he is gay.

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