Tuesday 24 April 2018

Robbie Rogers: My only regret in my 11-year career are the years I spent in the closet

Robbie Rogers
Robbie Rogers
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers, the first openly gay male athlete to compete in a major North American professional sports league, has announced his retirement.

The 30 year-old, capped 18 times by the United States and a 2008 Olympian, publicly revealed his sexuality shortly after leaving Leeds in February 2013.

He also announced his retirement from the game at the same time, aged 25, but four months later joined Major League Soccer side the Galaxy.

Now, after 11 years as a professional, the former Heerenveen and Columbus Crew player has said he is hanging up his boots for good after suffering an ankle injury.

He said in a statement on lagalaxy.com: "It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the game of soccer.

"It is through this game that I have experienced some of my greatest achievements both professionally and personally."

When he publicly came out as gay four years ago, Rogers wrote on his blog that he had been afraid of revealing his sexuality, and that he wanted to live a new life outside of the game.

Writing on his Instagram account on Tuesday, Rogers says he regretted not embracing his sexuality sooner.

He wrote: "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 only regret in my 11-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."

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

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport