Out footballer Michael Sam quits sport over mental health issues

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Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in NFL history, has dramatically quit the sport citing mental health issues.

The former SEC Defensive Player of the Year made history when he came out as gay last year – and has since had brief spells with the St Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys.

However, after being cut from both teams he opted for a transfer to the Canadian Football League – signing a two-year deal with Canadian team the Montreal Alouettes.

However, the footballer has this week tweeted that he will leave the sport, just a week after making his debut in a match against the Ottawa Redblacks.

He tweeted: “The last 12 months have become very difficult for me to the point where I became concerned for my mental health.

“Because of this, I am going to step away from the game at this time. I thank the Alouettes for this opportunity and hope to be back on the field soon.

“Thank you all for your understanding and support.”

The player is thought to have been struggling with the intense media scrutiny, which has coach has previously cited as an issue.

Jim Popp, General Manager of the Alouettes, said previously: “It’s a huge story because everybody keeps hounding and hounding and hounding. Michael Sam just wants to be a football player.

“I would think anybody that’s 25 years old that has been going through it for a year and a half, it would have to affect him. I would think so.”