Former MLS and U.S. national team midfielder Robbie Rogers announced Friday on his blog that he is retiring from the sport and that he is gay.
The 25-year-old former Leeds midfielder, who left the League One side Stevenage last month, wrote on his blog that he had been afraid of revealing his sexuality but that he is now leaving football.
Rogers, who made 18 appearances for the United States, wrote on his blog: "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."
Rogers also tweeted the message to his 78,000-plus Twitter followers on Friday, and several of his United States teammates expressed their support.
Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden wrote: "Much love and respect to my boy@robbierogers ! Proud to be your friend bro," while DaMarcus Beasley wrote: "I have a lot of respect for my boy @robbierogers. good luck in your next adventure man!!"
Eddie Pope, who played in three World Cups for the United States and is now the director of player relations for the MLS Players Union, tweeted: "@robbierogers Brave men like you will make it so that one day there's no need for an announcement.That day can't arrive soon enough.#Support"
Chris Basiurski, chairman of the Gay Football Supporters Network, said he hoped that Rogers could have played on if he wanted to after coming out.
"I'd be disappointed if (he's retired) because he felt as though he couldn't still have a career," he told Press Association. "What we want to do within our organization is create an atmosphere where a player could come out if they wanted to without fear. If he feels he has to retire after this, it shows there is still some way to go to create that atmosphere."
No British-based professional player has come out since ex-Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu in 1990. He committed suicide eight years later at age 37.
Last month, West Ham winger Matt Jarvis became the third footballer to be featured on the cover of the UK's best-selling gay magazine, "Attitude," after David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg.
Although not gay himself, Jarvis insisted gay footballers should feel comfortable enough to come out.
Gordon Taylor, chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, told Press Association that the PFA knows of more active players who are not comfortable coming out.
"I'm pleased that he's come out for his own sake," Taylor said. "... We know of players who are playing who are gay who've not had that confidence as yet. But, as the rest of the world becomes more civilised, hopefully that will come."
The Chicago Fire acquired Rogers' rights last week in the event that he planned to return to the MLS. He last played for the U.S. team in 2011 and played on the under-23 squad at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"Now is my time to step away," Rogers wrote. "It's time to discover myself away from football."
Information from Press Association was used in this report.