Championship - Ex-Leeds man Rogers quits football, comes out as gay

Former Leeds and USA midfielder Robbie Rogers has retired from football aged 25 to announce he is gay.

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Concacaf Football  - Rogers back in action for first time since coming out as gay

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Robbie Rogers of the United States (AFP)

The 25-year-old American, who was released by Leeds last month after a loan spell at League One side Stevenage, wrote on his blog that he had been afraid of revealing his sexuality - but that he is now leaving football.

Rogers, who won 18 caps for the United States, wrote:

"For the past 25 years I have been afraid to show who I really was because of 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.

"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.

"Secrets can cause so much internal damage. 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.

"Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football."

Rogers, a winger, rose to prominence at Columbus Crew in MLS, scoring 13 goals in over 100 appearances and earning international colours in the process.

He then moved to Leeds on the advice of USA coach Juergen Klinsmann but struggled with injuries and, after only making nine appearances in five months on loan at Stevenage this season, has decided to call it a day.

Another American player, David Testo, came out after retiring from football in 2011. He also played for Columbus Crew, albeit before Rogers, later moving to Canada where he played for Vancouver and Montreal.

However, no British-based professional player has come out since ex-Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu in 1990. He committed suicide eight years later aged 37.

There has been a thawing of attitudes to the prospect of gay players in Britain in recent times, however.

Last month, West Ham winger Matt Jarvis became the third footballer to feature on the cover of the UK's best-selling gay magazine, Attitude, after David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg.

Although not gay himself, Jarvis insisted gay footballers should feel comfortable enough to come out.

Meanwhile, Clarke Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), said last year he had been engaged in discussions with eight gay players but none of them wished to go public.

Players from other sports, such as rugby and cricket, have come out, with largely positive responses.

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