UK rugby star Gareth Thomas has said that years of lying about being gay made him suicidal.

Thomas, who retired from rugby in 2011 following an injury, publicly announced he is gay in 2009. The 38-year-old Welshman's coming out inspired other professional athletes to come out, including English cricketer Steven Michael Davies and Swedish footballer (European soccer) Anton Hysen.

Appearing on BBC's HARDtalk, Thomas said he had created his own “dark” and “homophobic” world.

“I had created this kind of dark, horrible, I'd say almost homophobic, world,” Thomas said. “'Cause I felt I had to create this because I have to justify why I lied everyday. And my justification was, 'Well, I need to because I'm not a stereotypical rugby player.'”

“When you lie everyday, you begin to hate yourself, because it's not a nice thing to do. So, I reached suicidal points because I just hated who I was, or what I was doing to other people.”

“Literally?” host Stephen Sackur asked.

“Oh yeah, literally. There's times when I tried, and then there are times when I came close to trying. And I thank God that it never actually happened.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)