Robbie Rogers is about to make history.
The 26-year-old soccer player has officially joined the L.A. Galaxy, and he could play for his new team as early as Sunday night. When he takes the field, he will become the first openly gay male athlete to appear in any one of North America’s major team sports leagues.
In February, Rogers announced that he is gay and was going to “step away” from soccer. He received an outpouring of support and reached celebrity status after coming out publicly, but he only changed his mind after meeting with a group of kids in April at the Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum in Portland, according to USA TODAY.
“I seriously felt like a coward,” Rogers said. “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?”
Rogers began practicing with the Galaxy in late April, and rumors of his potential return gathered steam in May. His return to soccer became official on Saturday after the Galaxy acquired his rights from the Chicago Fire in exchange for Mike Magee.
The U.S. international once felt he could not fulfill his sporting ambitions and live and work as an openly gay male. The world of 2013 showed him otherwise. He now hopes to get his career back on track and play for the United States at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“I want to win,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to go back just to be back. … Whether it’s ping-pong or I’m on the field, I always want to win.
“I want to get past the point where I was before. I want to get back to the national team. I was so close to making the World Cup in 2010, I want to be there for the next one.”
Rogers will become a pioneer the moment he takes the field for the Galaxy. Being the first openly gay male player in one of North America’s major team sports leagues will bring him plenty of attention, and he’s excited at the chance to help shape the future.
“I want to come back and be that voice, be that role model,” Rogers added. “I want to compete on the field. I want to make it back to the national team. I want to be a role model. I have a lot of motivating factors working for me right now.
“There’s a lot to be excited about. It’s awesome to be part of a movement that is changing our society.”