Robbie Rogers

Robbie Rogers

American footballer Robbie Rogers, who retired immediately after coming out in February, has decided to return to the sport after being inspired by a group of openly gay kids.

While Rogers (26) was applauded for coming out, many were disappointed that he also chose to stop playing. “Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football,” he said at the time.

A few weeks later he explained to The Guardian newspaper why he didn’t want to play professionally as a gay athlete. “I wouldn’t want to deal with the circus. Are people coming to see you because you’re gay? Would I want to do interviews every day, where people are asking: ‘So you’re taking showers with guys – how’s that?’

“If you’re playing well it will be reported as: ‘The gay footballer is playing well.’ And if you have a bad game it’ll be: ‘Aw, that gay dude … he’s struggling because he’s gay,'” he said.

On Friday, however, it was announced that Rogers has been signed up by the LA Galaxy team. This makes him the first openly gay footballer in the Major Soccer League (the US and Canadian professional soccer league).

Rogers told USA TODAY Sports that he was inspired to return to football after he met a group of openly gay youngsters at the Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum in Portland in April.

“I seriously felt like a coward. 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?” he said.

Just 48 hour after announcing his return, Rogers joined his new team to beat the Seattle Sounders in Carson, California on Sunday night.

He received a standing ovation and cheers of support from the almost 25,000 spectators when he stepped out onto the field.

“I guess part of me was just afraid – not afraid, but a little nervous, I guess,” Rogers told reporters after the game.

“I understand that, I guess, historically this is a big thing, but for me, it’s just another soccer game. So I’ve kind of been battling with both of those things: ‘OK, a soccer game: I’ve done this a million times.’ But then, obviously, I’m not naive, I know people are watching.”

Rogers previously played for the US national football team and for Leeds.

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