Thomas Hitzlsperger: Gay footballers 'fear' reaction

The former Aston Villa and West Ham player Thomas Hitzlsperger has spoken out after revealing he is gay.

The midfielder, who retired from the sport in September after a series of injury problems, is the first former Premier League player to publicly announce his homosexuality.

In his first broadcast interview, on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the former German international explained "about two years ago I was almost at the same point, wanting to speak out - but then I've been warned by several people [not to].

"They said 'it's too much while you're playing football'… and they proved to be right."

But he said he was unsure whether "football is such a homophobic environment, people just speculate that this will be the case".

He continued: "We fear a reaction that we don't know will happen".

Hitzlsperger also explained his view that the FA's stance on tackling racism is more prominent than "the way they tackle homophobia" but said the German FA "brought out a brochure last year where they advised homosexual football players" on how they should tackle the subject.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday 9 January 2014.