Gay footballers should stay in the closet, German football captain Philipp Lahm has said.

The Bayern Munich captain, 27, wrote in his autobiography The Subtle Difference that bullied gay players could be driven to kill themselves.

He wrote: “I would not advise any gay professional footballer to come out.

“I would fear that he could end up like Justin Fashanu who after he outed himself was driven into such a corner that he ended up committing suicide.”

Fashanu, who played for a number of British teams, was the first footballer to come out. But he suffered bullying and abuse and killed himself in 1998.

Lahm, who said he had “nothing against homosexuals”, also addressed rumours about his own sexual orientation.

He said: “First, I am not a homosexual. I am not married to my wife Claudia for appearances and I do not have a friend in Cologne with whom I really live.

“This speculation doesn’t matter to me. I have nothing against homosexuals and I find that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality.

“But it never ceases to amaze me that these isolated types, who tell these stories, can have a lot of influence on public opinion. ‘Philipp Lahm homosexual’ […] do you not have anything more important to talk about?”

Lahm’s book went on sale yesterday. He has already had to apologise for criticising other players and managers.