Robbie Rogers: “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.” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers, the first openly gay male athlete in a major North American professional sport, Tuesday announced his retirement from soccer.
Rogers, 30, ended his 11-year playing career that began in 2006.
He performed for SC Heerenveen, Columbus Crew SC, Leeds United and the Galaxy. Rogers won two MLS Cups (2008, 2014) and two Supporters’ Shield trophies (2008, 2009) and earned MLS all-star (2008, 2009) and MLS Best XI (2008) honors.
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from the game of soccer,” Rogers said on the Galaxy website. “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 then thanked Galaxy owner Philip F. Anschutz, Dan Beckerman of AEG “for the opportunities and continual support they have given me during my time with the LA Galaxy.”
He also gave a big nod to former Galaxy and U.S. national coach Bruce Arena “for encouraging me to return to professional soccer after I came out as a gay man” in 2013.
Rogers also was appreciative of the support the LA fans gave him when he played with the team at the Stub Hub Center after he came out.
“I’ll never forget the feeling of returning to the field in my first game back,” he said. “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.”
He played for the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and made 18 appearances for the U.S. national team.
“Robbie Rogers has been an integral part of our club and our community since he joined the LA Galaxy in 2013,” Galaxy president Chris Klein said in a statement. “During his time in Los Angeles, Robbie has been an elite athlete and a good teammate. He helped lead our club to a championship in 2014 while breaking barriers and being a force for positive change in our sport and in our community. We want to thank Robbie for his time with the LA Galaxy and wish him the best of luck in the next step of his career.”
Since coming out as gay, Rogers was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
Rogers resides in Los Angeles with his fiancé, Greg Berlanti, and their son, Caleb.