Real courage is standing up when the world just wants to put you down. That’s the message of a powerful new Guinness ad featuring Gareth Thomas, the former most-capped Welsh rugby union player ever, who came out as gay in 2009.

“The demons I fought on the pitch were nothing next to the ones I fought in my head,” narrates Thomas, an iconic rugby player who for years was top of the league in one of the world’s most punishing sports.

“Every impact, every rib cracked, every bone broken – that was nothing compared to the demons that were tearing me apart,” he adds in the hard-hitting video. “In my darkest hour, I turned to my teammates, telling them I was gay – that was the toughest thing I’d ever done.”

The unexpected support of his fellow teammates provided a turning point in Thomas’ life. Now his biggest regret is that it took him so long to comes to terms with his truth.

According to Guinness, the new video “tells the story of how the former Wales captain’s greatest fear wasn’t the opposition he faced on the pitch, but the fear of rejection from everything he had known, because of his sexuality.”

“Rather than focus on physical attributes of what makes a rugby player, this campaign looks to inner qualities like courage, empathy and resilience,” Guinness wrote in a release.

The ad has quickly become a global viral sensation, with over 30,000 views since it went live on Monday, September 7.

“The film celebrates the courage of Gareth, and most importantly, the empathy shown by his teammates when he came out, showing that even when he felt he was on his own and at his lowest point, he was always part of a team,” Guinness concludes.

Thomas was previously voted the most influential LGBT person in the UK by the Independent On Sunday Pink List.