Robbie Rogers, the first and currently only out gay man in professional U.S. sports, today announced his retirement from soccer.
“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 and I am forever indebted to the numerous individuals – coaches, teammates, staff and fans – that have helped me during this journey.
I want to personally thank Mr. Anschutz, Dan Beckerman and the entire AEG family for the opportunities and continual support they have given me during my time with the LA Galaxy. I would like to thank Bruce Arena for encouraging me to return to professional soccer after I came out as a gay man. I’d also like to thank all of my LA Galaxy teammates for accepting me from the first day I stepped back into the locker room at StubHub Center.
Finally, I’d like to thank the fans for their continued support throughout my career. I’ll never forget the feeling of returning to the field in my first game back. That feeling of acceptance and support pushed me as an athlete and as a person. Having the opportunity to win an MLS Cup in my hometown, with my hometown club as an openly gay man will be something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I will remain deeply connected to this sport and its surrounding community. I leave the game full of pride of what I have accomplished as a person and a player. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”
Rogers shared a separate message on social media:
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.
Rogers famously came out publicly as gay in 2013, retiring from soccer in his coming-out letter, assuming he could not be openly gay while playing pro sports. Three months later he announced his return to professional soccer. The LA Galaxy traded Mike Magee, who won the league’s MVP award, to the Chicago Fire for the rights to Rogers. Magee also recently retired.
The Galaxy won the MLS Cup in 2014 with Rogers starting much of the season, including the MLS Cup final. Rogers previously won the MLS Cup with the Columbus Crew in 2008.
He made a number of appearances with the United States men’s national team from 2009 to 2011. He did not compete in a World Cup, though he did play in at least one World Cup qualifier.