Robbie Rogers in action for League One side Stevenage
Photo: Getty Images
USA international Robbie Rogers has pulled the pin on his football career at the age of 25 and come out of the closet in a revealing post on his blog.
Rogers, capped 18 times for the USA, represented his nation at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and narrowly missed out on selection for the 2010 World Cup.
Until last month he was a member of Championship side Leeds United and was playing for League One side Stevenage on loan.
He made six appearances for Stevenage, though none since January 2 due to injury battles, and was released by Leeds by mutual consent.
In a blog entry titled 'The Next Chapter,' Rogers said the time was right to walk away from football.
"Secrets can cause so much internal damage," he wrote.
"People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay.
"Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently."
"I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career.
"I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made along the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.
"Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football. It's 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision.
"Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear.
"My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended."
Leeds manager Neil Warnock told The Telegraph had no idea Rogers was gay but that he "absolutely" supported him in his decision to come out, adding: "Good luck to him."
Lord Ouseley, chairman of the anti-homophobia football campaign Kick It Out, praised Rogers for his bravery.
"It’s an important beginning because we’ve seen a number of other sportspeople in different sports being very brave and forthright in letting people know about their sexuality and they received tremendous support," he told The Telegraph.
"It’s sad if [Rogers] wanted to do it before retiring and he didn’t feel sufficiently confident. You can understand people’s reluctance to come out but, nevertheless, I think football is ready to embrace players who feel ready to declare their sexuality."
Rogers is the first footballer in Britain to come out since Justin Fashanu in 1990. Fashanu, who spent several years with various English clubs and also played in the USA, committed suicide in 1998 after being accused of sexual assault by a 17-year-old boy.