Former US Men’s National Team and Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers announced his homosexual orientation and retired from professional football via his blog Friday.

“Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football,” Rogers wrote on his website.

The 25-year-old’s announcement comes a month after the American left third division English side Stevanage following a brief spell at Leeds United, where injury resulted in him seeing very little playing time.

“Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity,” Roger wrote. “Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career.”

Robbie joins a select few athletes in soccer that came out with non-heterosexual orientation. Justin Fashanu of Nottingham Forrest came out in 1990 and committed suicide eight years later.

Homophobia and sports at times seem to go hand in hand. With owners, coaches and players in various sports calling for discretion and privacy in the locker rooms, homosexuals are often passively dissuaded from sharing their sexual orientation with others.

Last August, a Baltimore politician, Emmett C. Burns Jr., sent a letter to the Baltimore Ravens, in a not-so-subtly worded gag-order aimed at linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo for his open stance on same-sex marriage.

“I find it inconceivable that one of your players … would publicly endorse Same-Sex marriage, specifically as a Ravens football player,” Burns wrote.

Many however, took to Twitter to commend Rogers on his bravery. Soccer journalist Grant Wahl commended the Twittersphere for its solidarity. “Great to see so much support on Twitter for Robbie Rogers from US soccer teammates and community. It matters.”

Perhaps coincidentally, Rogers’ announcement comes on the day of the international Football V Homophobia initiative’s scheduled match between Exeter City FC and Accrington Stanley in England.

The initiative is the English Football Association’s attempt at curbing negative attention related to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia by educating and informing the community that “football is for everyone,” according to its website.

“I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest.  Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear,” Rogers wrote. “My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.”

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