Former Leeds midfielder Robbie Rogers has announced he is gay.
The 25-year-old American, who left npower League One side Stevenage last month, wrote on his blog that he had been afraid of revealing his sexuality - but that he is now leaving football.
Rogers, who won 18 caps for the United States, wrote: "Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. 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."
He added: "Now is my time to step away. It's time to discover myself away from football."
No British-based professional player has come out since ex-Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker Justin Fashanu in 1990. He committed suicide eight years later aged 37. There has been a thawing of attitudes to the prospect of gay players in Britain in recent times, however.
Last month, West Ham winger Matt Jarvis became the third footballer to feature on the cover of the UK's best-selling gay magazine, Attitude, after David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg. Although not gay himself, Jarvis insisted gay footballers should feel comfortable enough to come out.
Meanwhile, Clarke Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), said last year he had been engaged in discussions with eight gay players but none of them wished to go public.
Ruth Hunt, director of public affairs for lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall, said: "It's great that Robbie now feels able to be open about his sexuality but it remains a shame that no professional player feels able to be out during their career.
"Homophobia remains rife in football and we must work together to stop it for the sake of the game."
Gordon Taylor, chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, told Press Association Sport: "I'm pleased that he's come out for his own sake. We do have players who've said that, while they are gay, they don't feel comfortable enough to come out."