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Mar 29, 2013

Rogers: I had to quit football to come out

Former US international Robbie Rogers has said he had to step away from football in order to come out as gay because it is "impossible" to do so while within the game.

Rogers, who numbered Leeds United and Columbus Crew among his clubs, came out in a posting on his website last month in which he wrote: "Life is simple when your secret is gone."

But to do so meant stepping away from the sport he loves, and Rogers told the Guardian: "In football it's obviously impossible to come out - because no-one has done it. No one.

"It's crazy and sad. I thought: 'Why don't I step away and deal with this and my family and be happy?' Imagine going to training every day and being in that spotlight. It's been a bit of a circus anyway, but that would have been crazy. And you wouldn't have much control because clubs are pushing you in different directions."

He said he had been "fearful of how my team-mates were going to react" and that he did not think he would have been able to come out while still playing for Leeds, Colubus Crew or any other club.

"I don't think I would have been able to go training the next day," he said. "That would be so scary.

"The guys might have said: 'That's great, Robbie.' Maybe. But because no-one's done it, and because of the things I've heard in the dressing room, I just thought: 'I need to get away from this - make my announcement, find peace, go from there.'

"Football is an amazing sport, but it is also a brutal sport that picks people up and slams them on their heads. Adding the gay aspect doesn't make a great cocktail. So I can never imagine announcing that at Leeds. Not at any club, anywhere."

Before Rogers, the former Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu was the only professional footballer in the UK to have come out as gay. Fashanu took his own life in 1998.