Former Columbus Crew, Leeds United, and U.S. National Team midfielder Robbie Rogers has come out as gay and retired from the sport effective immediately, the player revealed today in a blog post on his web site.
Some selections from Rogers' statement:
For the past 25 year I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. 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?
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 a long 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.
If Rogers' retirement at the age of 25 is permanent, he will not join former Montreal Impact midfielder David Testo as the first openly gay, professionally active soccer players in or from the United States. Testo came out in November 2011 but has not been signed by a club since.
Rogers played one year of college soccer at the University of Maryland before leaving school early to sign with Dutch club Heerenveen in 2006. After failing to catch on with the team, Rogers returned to the United States and enjoyed his most successful stint as a professional, making 106 appearances and scoring 13 goals with 16 assists for Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.With the Crew, Rogers captured the 2008 MLS Cup and the 2008 and 2009 MLS Supporters Shields.
Rogers transferred to Leeds United in 2012, but left the club by mutual consent on January 15th after failing to make an impression in the squad and suffering multiple injuries.