British Lions rugby legend Gareth Thomas: 'It's ended my marriage and nearly driven me to suicide. Now it's time to tell the world the truth - I'm gay'By Helen Weathers
Last updated at 9:32 AM on 19th December 2009
Gareth Thomas is a sporting legend. He captained Wales in 2005 to their first Grand Slam victory since 1978. The same year he captained the British Lions tour of New Zealand.
With 100 caps to his name - more than any other player in Welsh history - he has one of the fiercest reputations on the field, and a row of missing front teeth to prove it.
At 6ft 3in and 16st of pure muscle, his masculinity has always been an absolute given.
As a young man he bonded with rugby mates in the pub over tales of sexual conquests, and flirted with pretty girls eager to bag a sporting hero.
Living a lie: Gareth Thomas pictured with wife and teenage sweetheart Jemma before their marriage ended in 2006
And if anyone dared to suggest he was anything other than 100 per cent straight, Gareth 'Alfie' Thomas was prepared to make them see the error of their ways. With his fists, if necessary.
But, as he admits in the Daily Mail today, it was all a pretence, a fragile artifice - and one which came crashing down around his ears on November 4, 2006, following a Wales game in Cardiff.
Breaking down in tears in the changing rooms of the Millennium Stadium, Gareth finally realised he could not go on living a lie. Keeping his true sexuality a secret was destroying him.
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Secret: Gareth has won 100 caps for Wales and captained his country to the Grand Slam and the British Lions
Break up: The divorce between Gareth and Jemma will soon be finalised, but he says they are still in love with each other and remain friends
Changed: Gareth holds the 2005 Six Nations trophy with Michael Owen. Now retired from international rugby, he hopes to continue playing for Cardiff for as long as he can