USA international and former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers has posted an emotional "coming out" blog, describing his decision to quit professional football - aged just 25.
The midfielder from California, who has played 18 internationals for the USA, is one of the few professional footballers to speak openly about their sexuality.
He describes in the blogpost being "afraid to show who I really was" for his whole life.
Currently based in London, Rogers moved to Leeds United from Columbus Crew in 2012, but had a season blighted by injury and he went on loan to Stevenage.
Many people on Twitter, including former footballers, commented that it was appalling that Rogers felt he had had to quit football before coming out.
Rogers said he had been surprised by the supportive reception. He posted on Twitter:
On his blog, posted at 1am on Saturday, Rogers wrote: "My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today’s society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose.
"For the past 25 years I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations.
"Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams."
He mentions dreams of playing in the World Cup or Olympics, before writing: "Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.
I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined.
"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. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear."
Only two other footballers have publicly discussed their sexuality. In 1990, former England Under-21 international Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer in Britain to reveal he was gay. He committed suicide eight years later.
According to the BBC, Swedish lower league player Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool player Glenn Hysen, publicly announced his homosexuality in an interview with a Swedish football magazine in 2011.