A former Leeds United football player has come out as gay, and said that he has decided to quit football.

Writing on the homepage of his website, American international Robbie Rogers, reflected on his life’s dreams and goals, and said that keeping “secrets can cause internal damage”.

He had played on loan for Stevenage nine times this football season, and then returned to play for Leeds United in January, before leaving by mutual consent later in the month.

The 25-year-old midfielder, despite reflecting on a fear of coming out getting in the way of his goals, said that he “couldn’t be happier”, with his decision to come out and quit the sport. He also tweeted that he was “Just getting some sh*t off my chest,” with a link to the post.

Rogers, who competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics for the US, also co-owns menswear brand Halsey, and said he wanted to concentrate on life outside of professional football.

In the post on his personal website titled, The Next Step, he wrote:

Things are never what they seem… My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today’s society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose.

For the past 25 year I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my 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?

Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.

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 always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. 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. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. 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.

In January last year, Germany’s gay footballers were urged to come out by the former head of the country’s Football Association, Theo Zwanziger.

Bayern Munich and German national football captain Philipp Lahm said last year that he did not believe society was ready to accept gay professional footballers.

Last October, speaking to PinkNews.co.uk, Anton Hysen, the world’s only professional openly gay footballer said reasons to do with sponsorship explained the lack of out top division stars.

Former England international Gareth Southgate also said he believed footballers were ready to accept gay players in the dressing room.

West Ham footballer, Matt Jarvis, has appeared on the cover of Attitude magazine in January, and gave an interview saying gay footballers should come out, that they would be supported, and that they might even play better if they did.