Munich - Off the Ball,'s weekday feature, casts an eye over the weird, wonderful and sometimes controversial tales to have emerged from Germany's top flight.

Today, there is widespread support for the decision of former Bundesliga player Thomas Hitzlsperger to go public with his homosexuality while Bayern's Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller actually missed out on winning something. There were winners all around in Schalke's Doha training camp, however, as explains...

Former Bundesliga professional Thomas Hitzlsperger has received praise from all quarters after coming out on Wednesday. "Respect! It takes guts and courage to be one of the first sportsmen to come out," said FC Bayern defender Holger Badstuber. "I'm confident that sexual orientation will soon no longer be an issue in football," added FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger.

Hitzlsperger spent much of his career in the Premier League with Aston Villa, where he had one fan in British Prime Minister David Cameron. "I admire him even more today. A brave & important move," he Tweeted.

and may have won everything with FC Bayern München, but they have been beaten to the prize of Germany's National Team Player of the Year 2013 by Mesut Özil. The former FC Schalke 04 and SV Werder Bremen attacking midfielder, who now plies his trade for Arsenal FC in England after a spell with Real Madrid CF, has picked up the gong for the third year in a row.

"I'm proud and delighted with this award," said the 25-year-old, 52-time German international. Lahm took 17.54 per cent of the vote in second with Müller third on 13.68 per cent. You can't win them all.

Fans of FC Schalke 04 who had followed their favourites to their mid-season training camp in Doha were able to get up close and personal on Wednesday. Kevin-Prince Boateng, Benedikt Höwedes and Co. mingled with the fans at a buffet evening in the club's The Torch hotel.

Even former Schalke legend Raul could not pass up on the opportunity to spend the evening in the company of his former team mates. "Our fans are amazing," said midfielder (pictured). "They truly are unique."

The Gelsenkirchen club sent out the following Tweet from inside the hotel...