United States international Robbie Rogers has revealed on his website that he has overcome his "fear" by revealing that he is gay.
The 25-year-old, who had stints at Leeds United and Stevenage, has also announced that he will be stepping away from the sport.
Rogers wrote on his website: "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.
"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 always be thankful for my career."
The winger, who earned 18 caps for the USA national team, left Leeds by mutual consent last month following a season at the Championship club.