USA WINGER Robbie Rogers has publicly announced that he is gay and revealed that he is retiring from professional football.
The 25-year-old most recently played for Championship side Leeds United before his release from Elland Road last month and also had a brief a loan spell at Stevenage.
Rogers had been an MLS Cup winner with Columbus Crew in 2008 before he made his move to England after a successful start to his career in America.
“Secrets can cause so much internal damage,” Rogers wrote on his personal blog. “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 team-mates. I will never forget the friends I have made along the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.”
Along with the announcement that he is gay, Rogers also said the decision would mark the end of his playing career. He added: “Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football.
“I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realised I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a b**** 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.”
In an emotional announcement, Rogers revealed the difficulties he faced before deciding to go public and reveal he was gay because of the potential effect on both his football career and personal life.
“For the past 25 years I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear,” Rogers said. “Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams.
“Dreams of going to a World Cup, dreams of the Olympics, dreams of making my family proud. What would life be without these dreams? Could I live a life without them? Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.”
Rogers made his USA debut against Sweden in January 2009 and established himself as a regular for the national team.