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David Testo, American pro soccer player, comes out as gay, regrets not doing it earlier

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Exclusive Outsports interview: Click here for our exclusive interview with David Testo. He talks about staying closeted, why he came out when he did, and his first gay relationship with a 'Road Rules' star.

David Testo, former MLS player with the Columbus Crew, has told the CBC that he is gay. He is the first former MLS player to do so. And his former Canadian team, the Montreal Impact, say they knew he was gay when they signed him. Part of Testo's interview, translated from a French report:

I'm gay, I'm gay. I did not choose. It's just part of who I am. And it has nothing to do with the talent of a soccer player. You can be both an excellent soccer player and being gay. ...

I really regret not having said publicly earlier. I fought with it all my life, my whole career. Living the life of a professional athlete and being gay is incredibly difficult. It is like wearing a secret in his bags but never yourself. It saps all your energy to you, in addition to having to perform, having to play.

Testo played college soccer at the University of South Carolina and University of North Carolina. He went undrafted by Major League Soccer in 2003, which was a surprise to many. He eventually played in the MLS for the Columbus Crew. He's played the last four years for the Montreal Impact, which joins MLS next year. Testo won the team's MVP award in 2009.

Testo is the first former MLS player, and the first American pro soccer player, to come out of the closet. He also has the potential to finally break the lack of out active pro athletes in the big five leagues. While he isn't with an MLS team right now, he is not retired. What's interesting is that his team as of a month ago, the Montreal Impact, are joining MLS next season, but they dropped Testo in October after four years. Disappointing timing.

Watch an interview with Testo, who describes how difficult it has been living in the closet:

It's made me realize that life is so much greater than just soccer and winning and losing. It's about the relationships you build with the people around you. In the end, when you're laying down on your death bed, it's not about how much money you've made, how many wins you have, any of that. You want to know those connections you had to people and the difference you made in people's lives.

And I actually thank being gay for that. Because, hypothetically speaking, I don't know who I would be if I wasn't, but I know this has pushed me to grow in such a way I never would have dreamed.

Find out more about Testo at his Wikipedia page.

Hat tip to Kevin Jesus.