Hitzlsperger, who retired in September due to a knee injury, said in an interview with German magazine Die Ziet that the awareness of being gay was "a long and difficult process" and that "only in recent years has it dawned on me that I would prefer to live with another man”.
Rabbatts praised the player by saying: “Whilst there is much work being done to challenge homophobia it still takes personal courage to come out in the world of football and I both welcome and commend Thomas for this statement.
“Thomas’s coming out will help dispel any myth that gay men or women cannot be successful in football at the very highest level”
“Although still a sensitive issue, there is a great amount of work taking place to raise awareness and a real appetite to challenge homophobia and transphobia in football.
“Thomas’s coming out will help dispel any myth that gay men or women cannot be successful in football at the very highest level. This is a very important message, not just to football, but to sport in general.”
The FA’s work to improve visibility and acceptability of the LGB&T community is ongoing.
The Opening Doors and Joining In document was launched in 2012 as a whole-game action plan for football, working towards wider inclusion of those wishing to participate in football, in all disciplines and at all levels.