Earlier this year, Thomas Hitzlsperger described his experience of coming out as gay and the positive impact doing so had on his life in an exclusive interview with the Official Everton Podcast.
The former Germany international midfielder opened up publicly about his sexuality in 2014, six months after leaving Everton and calling time on a career that saw him lift the Bundesliga title with VfB Stuttgart as well as play in England, Italy and on 52 occasions for his country.
He remains the most high-profile footballer to be openly gay.
With Everton set to reaffirm its commitment to inclusivity in football by supporting Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces initiative at Saturday’s home game against Chelsea, we are republishing what was a fascinating and insightful chat with Hitzlsperger about the advice he would give gay footballers considering coming out and how he went from falling out of love with football to taking a top boardroom job at one of Germany's most successful clubs.
Hitzlsperger also details what it was like to realise his playing career was over at the age of just 31, why he believes more young English players should follow the example of Jonjoe Kenny and Jadon Sancho in plying their trade in the Bundesliga, and why he still cites the "special" work of Everton in the Community as an example for other clubs to follow.