Charles Wollin

Former Leeds & USMNT player Rogers reveals he's gay, then hangs up boots

Created on Feb. 16, 2013 4:22 PM EST

Robbie Rogers, former Leeds United and U.S. Men's National team player revealed he's gay, then said he'd step away from professional football on his personal blog, late last night.

"Secrets can cause so much internal damage," Rogers 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 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."

In recent years, the world football community has advocated for gay players to publicly come out. Although Rogers will be retiring, he joins Anton Hysen, who plays in Sweden at Utsikten and former Montreal Impact player David Testo, to remain the only out gay professional players.

Rogers also added he would leave the game, "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."

The 2009 MLS Cup winner and US International has received an outpour of positive support from players, former teammates and journalists from around the world. The messages have been sent directly to Rogers' personal Twitter account.

Eddie Pope, former U.S. Men's National Team Defender said, "Brave men like you will make it so that one day there's no need for an announcement. That day can't arrive soon enough."

U.S. Men's National team captain Carlos Bocanegra wrote, "Proud of you buddy. Hope you only retire if you're over soccer and want to pursue other interests."

Lori Lindsay, U.S. Women's National team player, who came out publicly last year wrote, "Welcome to the family, Robbie Rogers." 

Many hope that Rogers doesn't hang up his boots just yet, takes a break, and comes back to football when he's ready.

"The bravery of Robbie Rogers in commendable, I hope he realizes that he doesn't need to retire. He will be more supported than he knows." wrote Kasey Keller, former US National team player and TV analyst with Seattle Sounders.

Rogers also stated, "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." 

He ended his blog post by saying, "My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended."

Rogers made his USA debut against Sweden in January 2009 and established himself as a regular for the national team. He played in two CONCACAF Gold Cups in 2009 and 2011. He was also involved in the United States' 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign. His most recent goal for the U.S. was against arch-rivals Mexico in August of 2011.

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