Chicago, IL

Former US national team and MLS midfielder Robbie Rogers marked the announcement of his retirement by revealing he's gay.

On his blog, the 25-year-old former Leeds midfielder said he was afraid to reveal his sexuality while actively playing football.

"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," Rogers wrote on his blog.

"Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently," he added.

The Chicago Fire recently acquired the rights to Rogers, who made 18 appearances for the United States national team.

He last played for the U.S. team in 2011 and played on the under-23 squad at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"Now is my time to step away," Rogers said. "It's time to discover myself away from football."

Chris Basiurski, chairman of the Gay Football Supporters Network, said he hoped that Rogers could have played on if he wanted to after coming out.

"I'd be disappointed if he's retired because he felt as though he couldn't still have a career," he said. "What we want to do within our organization is create an atmosphere where a player could come out if they wanted to without fear."

Rogers was the first footballer to come out since ex-Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu admitted that he was gay in 1990. He committed suicide eight years later at age 37.

Last month, West Ham winger Matt Jarvis insisted gay footballers should feel comfortable enough to come out in his interview with UK's best-selling gay magazine, "Attitude".

Jarvis, who said he's not gay, became the third footballer to be featured on the cover of that magazine after David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg.