United States international Robbie Rogers has come out as gay and says he is stepping away from football.
The decision by Rogers to come out as gay has been hailed by rights groups who believe sport in the Unites States is reaching a tipping point in accepting homosexual players.
The 25-year-old former Leeds United and US international wrote a blog post about his struggle keeping his sexuality a secret and that he is leaving the game.
No player in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association or National Hockey League has ever come out as gay while playing.
The most prominent 'coming out' in professional sports in recent times was Puerto Rican featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz, who last October announced he was gay.
Rogers's statement, however, comes just over two weeks after a high-profile discussion of homophobia dominated headlines in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver caused a media storm after saying he would not welcome a gay team-mate into the locker room.
Culliver's comments were roundly criticised by a number of other NFL players, most notably Brendon Ayanbadejo, a linebacker on the opposing Super Bowl team, the Baltimore Ravens.
Ayanbadejo, who has been a public supporter of gay marriage rights, said that many players may agree with Culliver but that the tide was turning.