A top German footballer has secretly come out as gay but refuses to go public because of fears for his safety.
Speaking anonymously to magazine Fluter, the Bundesliga player said: 'I would no longer be safe if my sexuality was to be made public.
'I don’t know whether I will be able to take the constant tension between the model heterosexual player and the possible discovery until the end of my career.'
He added that the stereotype of gay men as weak and not aggressive would damage his reputation, with people blaming bad performance on the pitch to his sexuality.
'Should someone explain to the outraged crowd before the game that "the gays" are actually completely normal men and then simply play? Unimaginable,' the premier league footballer said.
'In the situation in a stadium or after the game, any tiny thing within the group would be made into a big deal.'
The sportsman also believes the media would spend more time gossiping about his relationships than talking about his game, saying there is 'simply no solution' to the problem.
He explained: 'Either I stroll with my boyfriend to an event and am then in all the media for three weeks, or I lie to myself and keep everything private.'
He added that although he doesn't currently have a boyfriend his last relationship was destroyed by having to keep their love a secret.
Some players, however, do know he is gay. But he says it hasn't really been a problem.
'Of course some situations such as showering were uncomfortable for both sides at first,' he admitted.
'But I have no interest in the other players and at one point it became unimportant for all sides. At the end of the day despite their reputation, my colleagues are not ignorant.'
He called on players to 'have the courage to declare themselves, saying attitudes within football have changed in recent years.
However, many footballers still believe Germany is not yet ready to accept openly gay players.
In his recently published book, Bayern Munich star Phillip Lahm advised gay athletes to stay in the closet.
The unidentified footballer agreed, saying many people in the public eye don't have to face a crowd of thousands of jeering fans in the stadium the day after coming out.
He added that he intends to remain in the closet and sees 'little hope' unless more players are willing to be open about their sexuality.
'Of course I would be delighted if at one time an avalanche of outings came, and even I could be amazed at who was there who I did not already know,' he said.
'A bit of normality would make me happy. Simply to be able to go with a future partner to a restaurant in public. A dream.'