Fashanu niece: Shame Hitzlsperger waited so long

The niece of Britain's first openly gay footballer Justin Fashanu has said ex-Premier League star Thomas Hitzlsperger's decision to reveal he is gay is "very significant" but said it was a shame he waited until he was retired to make the announcement

Everton's Martinez backs Hitzlsperger's decision

Everton manager Roberton Martinez says he fully supports Thomas Hitzlsperger's decision to announce he is gay.

Everton Manager, Roberto Martinez
Everton Manager, Roberto Martinez

"As a footballer and a human being you should be able to be happy. As a manager you want your players to be able to be free and honest and obviously we back Thomas's decision for coming out and making the statement that he made," said Martinez.

"I think it is important, you need to be able to be yourself and express your sexuality and in that respect we back his decision," he added.

Fashanu niece: Shame Hitzlsperger waited so long

The niece of gay footballer Justin Fashanu has said that while Thomas Hitzlsperger's decision to reveal he is gay is a move forward and "very significant", it is a shame that he waited until he was retired to make the announcement.

Amal Fashanu, 25, who made a documentary looking at why so few football players are openly gay, said it would have made a difference if Hitzlsperger had come out in his last year as a player.

"I think it is a shame, I think even in his last year he could have come out. He says he didn't have the time to do that, but I always say to myself there is always time to be real to yourself because what you don’t have time for is faking on a constant basis in your daily life," she said.

"It is a shame but it’s still good, so let’s not take away from that," she said.

Fashanu added that one day she hoped to see an openly gay Premier League footballer.

Hitzlsperger: 'I've never been ashamed of the way I am'

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Hitzlsperger: Daley 'gave me the feeling I was not alone'

Tom Daley, who won Olympic bronze at London 2012, revealed his gay relationship last month. Credit: PA

Former footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has said that diver Tom Daley revealing he was in a relationship with a man helped in his own coming out.

"It really helped me to see that other professional sports people were acknowledging their sexuality," he told the Guardian's Raphael Honigstein.

"I read about John Amaechi, Gareth Thomas and Tom Daley. They weren't footballers but the fact that they went public gave me the feeling that I was not alone.

"I began to think that I could help other footballers who might be in the same shoes, so that they could see that here's someone who was even an international.

"I wanted to encourage them, the way that those guys and Robbie Rogers encouraged me."

Hitzlsperger becomes first Premier League player to come out

Hitzlsperger: People think being gay means you're weak

Thomas Hitzlsperger has said he believes his case proves that it is possible to be strong and gay. In an interview on his website he said:

They think in ... professional football that you have to be strong, powerful. They think being gay means you aren't that, you're the opposite, you're soft, you don't really like to tackle, you're really weak.

But ... people nicknamed me 'The Hammer' early on because I've got a powerful left foot, I'm a strong guy ... Why do people think that being gay means that you're weak? I think I proved the opposite.

Read: Thomas Hitzlsperger speaks about coming out in video

Thomas Hitzlsperger speaks about coming out in video

The former professional football player Thomas Hitzlsperger has released a video explaining his reasons for announcing he is gay.

Asked whether he thinks he could have made the announcement before his retirement, he says he believes young players "can talk about it" and that we will see a current footballer coming out earlier in their careers.

But he admitted he "does not know a single gay footballer personally".

More: Hitzlsperger is first openly gay ex-Premier League star

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Aston Villa praises Hitzlsperger's announcement

Thomas Hitzlsperger's former club Aston Villa has praised him after the ex-footballer announced he was gay:

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Everyone who knows Thomas from his time here at Villa has great respect for him, not only as the fine player he was but also as a man. (1/3)

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His statement today is a straightforward statement and, along with our support as a club, we hope that everyone involved in the game...(2/3)

Clegg's 'huge respect' for Hitzlsperger courage

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has tweeted his "huge respect" for Thomas Hitzlsperger, who today became the first openly gay ex-Premier League footballer.

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Huge respect to @thomashitzl for his courage today. His bravery will help break down barriers in sport for the next generation.

Hitzlsperger acknowledged the message with a retweet.

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