Gareth Thomas memoir to Ebury Press

Ebury Press has bought the memoir of rugby player Gareth Thomas, the first world class professional sportsman to have come out as gay while still playing.

Deputy publishing director Andrew Goodfellow bought world rights through Paul Moreton at Bell Lomax Moreton, on behalf of Emanuele Palladino at Distinct Agency.

Thomas is a former British Lions and Wales captain who earned 100 caps for Wales. But for a long time his homosexuality was a secret hidden from wife, family, friends and teammates. Ebury Press called the memoir "an incredible story of one man facing up to the truth with no idea of the impact it will have on his life," saying: "Although some of Gareth's story is out there and has already inspired and given hope to millions, there are some things he's never talked about and only the intimacy of a book can do it justice."

Goodfellow compared the book for depth of insight to Marcus Trescothick's Coming Back to Me, David Millar's Racing Through the Dark and Andre Agassi's Open.

Thomas said: "I feel ready to write this book now. I hope it will help others have the courage to deal with whatever life throws at them . . . This book will allow me to talk honestly and frankly about my life and share that story with others."

The book will be ghosted by sportswriter Michael Calvin.

Gareth Thomas will be published in September 2014.