Trailblazer Robbie Rogers retires from professional soccer

Comments()
Ron Chenoy
The LA Galaxy defender, who became the first openly gay athlete to compete in North American men’s professional sports, has hung up his boots

LA Galaxy and former U.S. international Robbie Rogers has announced his retirement.

The 30-year-old defender spent 11 years in the game, with stops at Dutch side SC Heerenveen, English club Leeds United and the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy of MLS.

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the game of soccer,” Rogers said in a statement. “It is through this game that I have experienced some of my greatest achievements both professionally and personally and I am forever indebted to the numerous individuals – coaches, teammates, staff and fans – that have helped me during this journey.”

Rogers is perhaps best known for coming out as the first openly gay athlete in a North American men’s professional league when he first played for the Galaxy in 2013. In his statement, he thanked former Galaxy coach Bruce Arena for encouraging him to return to the field after coming out, along with those who accepted him along the way.

 
 

As a young boy I dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player and representing my country in front of the world. But as a teenager I grew more and more consumed by fear and shame. And sadly, at some point the scared kid inside me decided that pursuing my dream meant sacrificing a part of myself and hiding my sexuality from the world instead of embracing it. My happiest years as a player are the ones where I could walk through the stadium at the end of games down the tunnel to my partner and son waiting for me at the other end. And my only regret in my eleven year career are the years I spent in the closet. I wish I could have found the courage that so many young individuals have shared with me in the past five years to live honestly and openly as a gay person. These are the young people that inspired me to overcome my fears and return to playing. They’re still the kids that send me letters every week. To those kids, I say thank you. My proudest accomplishment in my career is helping to create a more open sport for you. None of this would have been possible without my teammates and brothers on and off the field, without the LA Galaxy and Bruce Arena who saw me as another player and not a distraction, or without the fans who judged me for my work ethic and my play and not my sexuality. And finally, it couldn’t have been possible without my family, who loved me through all of my ups and downs and always supported my dreams and still do. Lastly to all of the women and men who are still frightened to share their truth with the world, I’d encourage you to come out. By sharing who you are you will not only be improving your own life but inspiring and literally saving the lives of young people across the world. You deserve to take that same walk, down the players tunnel and have your own partner or loved ones waiting for you. Again thank you to everyone who watched or help me follow these dreams. I could never have imagined the happiness I’ll take with me into retirement and into my next chapter.

A post shared by Robbie Rogers (@robbierogers) on

“I would like to thank Bruce Arena for encouraging me to return to professional soccer after I came out as a gay man,” Rogers said. “I’d also like to thank all of my LA Galaxy teammates for accepting me from the first day I stepped back into the locker room at StubHub Center.

“Finally, I’d like to thank the fans for their continued support throughout my career. I’ll never forget the feeling of returning to the field in my first game back. That feeling of acceptance and support pushed me as an athlete and as a person.

“Having the opportunity to win an MLS Cup in my hometown, with my hometown club as an openly gay man will be something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Rogers would go on to win and MLS Cup in 2014 with the Galaxy, to go along with the one he won in 2008 as a member of the Crew. Unfortunately, nerve damage in his ankle kept Rogers off the field for most of the 2017 as he featured in just one contest, playing for the Galaxy II in the USL.

He was also on the roster for a pair of Gold Cup runners-up with the U.S. in 2009 and 2011, starting five games in the 2009 tournament.

Rogers was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Close