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Highlights on Off The Ball

Footballer Anton Hysen tells us about his experience of coming out as gay

In 2011, Swedish sportsman Anton Hysen became only the second active professional footballer...

Footballer Anton Hysen tells u...

Footballer Anton Hysen tells us about his experience of coming out as gay

In 2011, Swedish sportsman Anton Hysen became only the second active professional footballer to come out as gay.

The 26-year-old, who is the son of ex-Liverpool and Sweden defender Glenn Hysen and brother to former Swedish international Tobias Hysen, was playing in the fourth division at club side Utsiktens BK at the time, and his interview with Offside magazine made global news. In 2012, he went on to win the Swedish version of Strictly Come Dancing.

In the intervening years, Los Angeles Galaxy's Robbie Rogers and ex-Everton, Aston Villa and Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzelsperger (after his retirement) have since come out in a sport in which there have been few openly gay players.

On this week's Newstalk's Team 33, Hysen joined Joe, Derek, Killian and I on the show to talk about the aftermath of his decision to come out as well as his love of Liverpool FC, Swedish football and his future plans on the field.

You can listen to the full interview with Anton Hysen on the podcast player or stream for free on iTunes:

By the time, Hysen had spoken to Offside magazine, he had already come out to his family, while his team-mates were also hugely supportive.

"The way [Offside] presented my story was they contacted my father and they had an interview with him. In one way or another they then came to me and talked about me and said I was openly gay to my family and some of my team-mates," he recalls.

"So they sent me a letter and said they want to make a story about it. They asked me respectfully, 'Do you want to do this or not? This could help a lot of people, but we respect it if you do not want to do it because there could be a lot of noise after. And then it came out."

The reaction to Hysen since coming out has been overwhelmingly positive across the football world, although there has been a small minority who take a less welcoming view.

"I've heard some people in the stands saying some things like 'stop playing like a girl or something,'" he said.

Hysen has also had footballers contacting him looking for advice about their own plans to come out.

"I get anonymous stuff. I know there are so many out there and statistically there is two in every team they say. I've had anonymous emails and texts after I came out," he said. 

And as for future playing plans, a career outside Sweden is a possibility, with the Liverpool-born player even mentioning Ireland in passing.

"After all these years, I'm getting older but I'm still young and have a chance still. This year, I'm going to make a lot of sacrifices and try and get back to England or play in any league like Ireland or Scotland. I've got some try-outs that my dad has set up for me, and I'm working hard every day," he said. 

In the full Team 33 interview, he also talked about what the lifestyle is like for Swedish players below the top division, his thoughts on the difference in coming out as gay in a country like his own in comparison to a high profile league such as the Premier League, and learning about the story of Justin Fashanu, the first professional footballer to come out as gay.

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