(Reuters) - Former U.S. international and Los Angeles Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers, who became the first openly gay male to compete in a major North American professional sport, announced his retirement from professional soccer on Tuesday.
Rogers, who came out as gay on the same day he first retired in 2012 only to sign with his hometown Galaxy three months later, spent 10 years in Major League Soccer where he was a two-times All-Star, winning league championships in 2008 and 2014, the latter with LA.
“I’ll never forget the feeling of returning to the field in my first game back,” Rogers, 30, said in a statement released by the Galaxy. “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.”
After beginning his career in Holland with SC Heerenveen in 2006, Rogers moved to MLS’s Columbus Crew in 2007. He joined the Galaxy in 2013 after a stint with English club Leeds.
Rogers, who was ruled out for the current MLS season in May due to nerve damage in his left ankle that required surgery, also won 18 caps for the U.S. men’s team and was part of the U.S. team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“I will remain deeply connected to this sport and its surrounding community,” said Rogers. “I leave the game full of pride of what I have accomplished as a person and a player. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford