American international and former British Leeds United football midfielder Robbie Rogers has come out as gay.
The 25-year-old told fans he no longer wants to keep his sexuality a secret.
He added he ‘couldn’t be happier’ with his decision.
He’s the highest profile footballer to come out in Britain’s national game since Justin Fashanu in 1990. He committed suicide in 1998.
Writing on his blog Rogers said he had feared coming out as gay would get in the way of his dreams.
‘Dreams of going to a World Cup, dreams of The Olympics, dreams of making my family proud. What would life be without these dreams? Could I live a life without them?’ he asked.
But now he has decided to get things off his chest.
He wrote: ‘Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple.
‘Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.
‘I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.
‘Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football.
‘Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.’
Rogers started playing in college football at the University of Maryland. After moving to Dutch Eredivisie side Heerenveen in 2006 he returned to the US to sign for Columbus Crew the next year.
He played for the USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He won an MLS Cup title with Columbus Crew that same year.
In 2012 he was with British Championship side Leeds United. He was then on loan to League One team Stevenage, also in the UK, from August 2012 until January 2013.
He is the co-owner of menswear brand Halsey.