Robbie Rogers has retired from soccer.
The openly gay professional soccer player has hung up his cleats, according to a joint announcement by Rogers and his current team, the LA Galaxy.
Rogers’ retirement is no surprise. He has battled injuries his entire career. Back injuries, hamstring injuries, concussions, and the latest — a nasty ankle injury that required what he told Outsports was a “gnarly” surgery — mounted for Rogers. After at least eight surgeries, like so many other elite athletes, he’s decided that’s it.
Rogers famously came out publicly as gay in 2013, retiring from soccer in his coming-out letter, assuming he could not be openly gay while playing pro sports. Three months later he announced his return to professional soccer. The LA Galaxy traded Mike Magee, who won the league’s MVP award, to the Chicago Fire for the rights to Rogers. Magee also recently retired.
The Galaxy won the MLS Cup in 2014 with Rogers starting much of the season, including the MLS Cup final. Rogers previously won the MLS Cup with the Columbus Crew in 2008.
He made a number of appearances with the United States men’s national team from 2009 to 2011. He did not compete in a World Cup, though he did play in at least one World Cup qualifier.
His time in Major League Soccer as an out gay man blazed a trail that other athletes at various levels of sports have followed. That hasn’t been lost on Rogers, who talked about it in his retirement statement.
“I’d also like to thank all of my LA Galaxy teammates for accepting me from the first day I stepped back into the locker room at StubHub Center. Finally, I’d like to thank the fans for their continued support throughout my career. I’ll never forget the feeling of returning to the field in my first game back. 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.”
While high school and college athletes across the country and across sports have followed Rogers’ lead, no one has in men’s professional sports or any other league. Michael Sam came out almost a year after Rogers, but he never made an active roster.
To this day, Rogers was the first and is currently the last publicly out gay man to play in men’s major pro sports. Jason Collins also played for the Brooklyn Nets after coming out publicly.
Rogers will surely now turn his attention to his other love: fashion. Rogers co-founded the designer men’s line Hampton + Baker with his friend, Alfie Baker (Rogers’ middle name is Hampton). He’s made no secret of his love of fashion, and now he can devote much more attention to that.
While we’ll miss having Rogers on the pitch, and he’ll miss playing soccer, no doubt he’ll be doing just fine.