LA Galaxy winger Robbie Rogers says young gay athletes will be inspired by Thomas Hitzlsperger's “courageous” coming out.

Roughly four months after retiring from the game, Hitzlsperger became the biggest name in soccer to come out gay.

The German player said he came out in part to show that being gay and a professional football player is “not a contradiction.”

Rogers, America's first openly gay professional soccer player, cheered Hitzlsperger's decision in an op-ed published in The Guardian.

“I could never have imagined that Thomas was gay too, but it would have made a world of difference to me if I had known, just as young gay athletes around the world will be inspired now by Thomas's courageous decision to come forward and share the truth about his life,” Rogers wrote.

“I don't know Thomas Hitzlsperger, or if his experience has been anything like mine. I found that if you grow up hiding the secret of your sexuality, even when you're an adult and your career is no longer on the line, it's not an easy thing to go public with something so personal – something you know would make it impossible to play the game you love. That's what kept me in the closet until I retired last February and came out.”

“It always feels funny when people congratulate me for coming out, because they're congratulating me for simply telling the truth. But at a moment like this, my first thought is to congratulate Thomas. To thank him for taking the risk, for himself and for all the people who will be helped and inspired by his brave act. We can only hope that by joining the conversation, he can help move it forward,” Rogers added.