Robbie Rogers made headlines in February when he came out and promptly retired from the game of soccer.
“I will always be thankful for my career,” Rogers wrote on his website. “I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret. Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football.”
Now, after a few months away from the sport, Rogers is set to become the first out male athlete to play in Major League Soccer and the first active player to compete with an American professional sports team. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Galaxy (the former team of David Beckham) announced a multiyear deal with the winger that involved trading one of the team’s fan favorites, Mike Magee, to the Chicago Fire.
The decision to come out of retirement was prompted after talking to kids at the Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum.
“I seriously felt like a coward,” the player told USA Today. “These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I’m 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?”
As Rogers deals with his fears and trepidation, his new teammates have already lined up to support him.
“Everybody wants it to go a certain way on the field, but in my opinion it’s already a success whether he plays 1 minute or 1,000 minutes or 10,000 minutes,” Landon Donovan told The New York Times. “It’s already a big step in the right direction for our society as a whole. I’m proud to be a part of it.”