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USA winger Robbie Rogers comes out as gay

Former Leeds and Stevenage footballer Robbie Rogers has become one of the first professional players to come out as gay. The winger, who has 18 international caps for the USA, has chosen to "step away" from football.

On his personal blog, Rogers admitted that he had feared coming out earlier would have preventing him realising his sporting ambitions. "For the past 25 years I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear," he wrote. "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."

Rogers enjoyed the high point of his career in the USA with Columbus Crew, where he won an MLS Cup medal in 2008. He played for the US at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and made the senior team in 2009. He was in the preliminary squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but did not make the final 23.

"I always thought I could hide this secret," Rogers wrote. "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 along the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret."

His career in England never took off, with Leeds lending him out to lowly Stevenage. Rogers is only 25 and has played at the highest level, but it seems that being open about his sexuality precludes his continuing a career in football. "Now is my time to step away," he wrote. "It's time to discover myself away from football." He didn’t spell out whether football’s continued homophobia makes it impossible for him to continue playing, but many may draw that conclusion.

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