Openly gay LA Galaxy football player Robbie Rogers, has sent a message of hope to gay athletes who may be hesitating to come out, as he said “it will not hurt your career”.

On Sunday, the former Leeds United player made his historic debut in Major League Soccer, playing for LA Galaxy, who won against the Seattle Sounders 4-0.

Writing on Instagram ahead of the game, Rogers said: “An exciting future lies ahead, not only for me but for our society,” beside a picture of him posing with the LA Galaxy scarf and kit.

Speaking to the New York Times, Rogers noted the recent coming out of NBA star Jason Collins, and the support and acceptance he and Collins had received.

In April NBA star Jason Collins confirmed he is gay in an article to Sports Illustrated magazine. He said: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

Rogers said: “People have seen how accepting everyone has been of Jason’s and my story. I think it’s going to take just more time and more athletes coming out. It’s all about seeing that it’s not something to be afraid of. It’s not going to hurt your career.”

Speaking of the nerves he felt before the match, he said in the end, it just felt “normal”. He said: “I keep saying the word normal, normal, but it was,” he said. “It was just good to be back. I’m excited to move on from here.”

Rogers quit professional football in January, shortly before coming out as gay.

He had returned to training with the Los Angeles team three weeks ago, and is now the first openly gay Major League Soccer player.

He said he was inspired to return to the sport after attending the Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum in Portland last month.