Robbie Rogers, a former Major League Soccer player, revealed in a lengthy message posted on his website Friday that he is gay and leaving the sport.
"I have been afraid, afraid to show [who] I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations," he said in a post written from London early Friday morning. "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."
The 25-year-old midfielder went on to talk about how he thought his sexuality would prevent him from going to the World Cup or the Olympics and described the "internal damage" caused by hiding the truth and avoiding questions about his sexuality. "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," he continued. "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."
After years of hiding, Rogers said he could not be happier with his decision and expressed a desire to enjoy his newfound peace away from soccer. "Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football," he said. "Honesty is a b---- but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on."
A native of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Rogers played one year of college soccer for the University of Maryland before playing with Major League Soccer team Columbus Crew for four years. In 2008, the team won the MLS Cup title, and Rogers also played for the US National Men's Soccer Under-23 team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.