Robbie Rogers, the former Leeds United player, has come out as the only openly gay footballer in the UK.

The 25-year-old revealed his sexuality in a heartfelt blog post in which he described the struggle of keeping his homosexuality secret for so long.

He said: "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 who 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."

Rogers said that his life was much simpler after coming out. "The pain that lurks in the stomach at work" from hiding his secret had gone, he said.

"Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple.

Time to discover myself

"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."

Rogers said he always thought he could hide his sexuality and that he used football as an escape.

The California-born sportsman, who joined Leeds in 2012 and has played for Stevenage on loan, made his confession as he announced his retirement from football.

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

"Life is so full of amazing things. I realised 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."

Rogers is the first person who has played for a UK team to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu.

It is estimated that around six percent, or one in 20 people, are gay.

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