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Robbie Rogers, the first openly gay US pro footballer, announces retirement

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Robbie Rogers has announced his retirement from professional football.

The 30-year-old LA Galaxy defender came out as gay while announcing his initial retirement in 2013 after leaving Leeds United, although he returned to the game when he signed with Galaxy just three months later.

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the game of soccer,” he said in a statement on the LA Galaxy website. “Right now, I feel like I’ve accomplished pretty much everything that I want to accomplish.”

His retirement, which comes after a series of injuries and eight operations as a professional, the most recent being an ankle injury in May, means that there are currently no openly gay men playing in US major pro sports.

“As a young boy I dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player and representing my country in front of the world,” he wrote. “But as a teenager I grew more and more consumed by fear and shame.

“And sadly, at some point the scared kid inside me decided that pursuing my dream meant sacrificing a part of myself and hiding my sexuality from the world instead of embracing it.

“My happiest years as a player are the ones where I could walk through the stadium at the end of the games down the tunnel to my partner and son waiting for me at the other end.”

Robbie is engaged to Hollywood producer Greg Berlanti, and together they have a son named Caleb.

What a beautiful Summer!!! So jealous of Caleb's shoes…. #ALWAYS

A post shared by Robbie Rogers (@robbierogers) on

“My only regret in my eleven year career are the years I spent in the closet,” he continued.

“I wish I could have found the courage that so many young individuals have shared with me in the past five years to live honestly and openly as a gay person.

“These are the young people that inspired me to overcome my fears and return to playing. They’re still the kids that send me letters every week. To those kids, I say thank you.

“My proudest accomplishment in my career is helping to create a more open sport for you.”

As a young boy I dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player and representing my country in front of the world. But as a teenager I grew more and more consumed by fear and shame. And sadly, at some point the scared kid inside me decided that pursuing my dream meant sacrificing a part of myself and hiding my sexuality from the world instead of embracing it. My happiest years as a player are the ones where I could walk through the stadium at the end of games down the tunnel to my partner and son waiting for me at the other end. And my only regret in my eleven year career are the years I spent in the closet. I wish I could have found the courage that so many young individuals have shared with me in the past five years to live honestly and openly as a gay person. These are the young people that inspired me to overcome my fears and return to playing. They’re still the kids that send me letters every week. To those kids, I say thank you. My proudest accomplishment in my career is helping to create a more open sport for you. None of this would have been possible without my teammates and brothers on and off the field, without the LA Galaxy and Bruce Arena who saw me as another player and not a distraction, or without the fans who judged me for my work ethic and my play and not my sexuality. And finally, it couldn’t have been possible without my family, who loved me through all of my ups and downs and always supported my dreams and still do. Lastly to all of the women and men who are still frightened to share their truth with the world, I’d encourage you to come out. By sharing who you are you will not only be improving your own life but inspiring and literally saving the lives of young people across the world. You deserve to take that same walk, down the players tunnel and have your own partner or loved ones waiting for you. Again thank you to everyone who watched or help me follow these dreams. I could never have imagined the happiness I’ll take with me into retirement and into my next chapter.

A post shared by Robbie Rogers (@robbierogers) on

LA Galaxy president Chris Klein called Robbie “an integral part of our club and our community” and praised him for “breaking barriers and being a force for positive change” while being an out gay athlete.

Last year, Robbie appeared alongside fellow gay athlete Gus Kenworthy as a guest star on The Real O’Neals to give teenager Kenny, played by Noah Galvin, a pep talk about his sexuality.

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