By Rick Freeman
Robbie Rogers, a former player for the U.S. national team and Major League Soccer, says he is gay and “could not be happier” about his decision to go public with his disclosure.
In a post on his personal website, Rogers writes: “Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. … Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay.” Rogers’ agent, Shaun Higgins, confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that the post was from his client. Rogers, who linked his Friday post from his Twitter account, said he was retiring.
“It’s time to discover myself away from football,” he said. “It’s 1 a.m. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest.”
The midfielder has been receiving an outpouring of support from American teammates, players in England’s professional leagues, soccer officials and others around the world.
While several major individual-sport athletes have been openly gay, no professional athlete in any of the four major North American team sports has come out until well after he was done playing. US women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe came out last year before the Olympics and plays for Lyon in France.
Rogers played for the Columbus Crew of MLS from 2007 to 2011, winning the MLS Cup in 2008. For the United States, Rogers made 18 appearances, seven in games that were not exhibitions. He scored two goals, one in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match, and another to give the US a draw in an exhibition game against Mexico.
Among those tweeting support to Rogers were many U.S. teammates and U.S. women’s players, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, NBA star Steve Nash, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and former England star and broadcaster Gary Lineker.
After five seasons in MLS, Rogers went to play in England last January. He joined Leeds United, which plays one step below the Premier League. He never really got going with Leeds because of injuries and went on loan to third-division Stevenage for this season. After more injury trouble, he returned to Leeds in January and was released.