A top German footballer says he fears attacks from fans and even by other footballers if he goes public about his sexuality.

“I don’t know whether I will be able to take the constant tension between [being] the model heterosexual player and the possible discovery until the end of my career,” the unnamed player told Germany’s Fluter magazine.

He said women friends act as “beards” at public events to disguise his sexuality. His last gay relationship, he wrote, was “poisoned” by the secrecy.

The player also believes media attention about his private life would have a detrimental impact for him on the pitch.

“In the situation in a stadium or after the game, any tiny thing within the group would be made into a big deal.”

“I would no longer be safe if my sexuality was to be made public,” the player said.

In January, Germany’s gay footballers were urged to come out by the former head of the country’s Football Association, Theo Zwanziger.

However, in his autobiography, Bayern Munich star Philip Lahm advised players to stay in the closet because he believes they could be driven to kill themselves as a result of bullying.

Earlier this week, PinkNews.co.uk reported that York City FC player Clarke Carlisle recently told the UK’s Gay Football Supporters’ Network (GSFN) that gay footballers were “frightened” to come out due to “media” pressure.

Carlisle said: “You have to understand that the use of language in football, in the changing rooms, between players and managers and of course on the terraces is at a pretty base level… so any player thinking about doing this would need to be very brave”.