Michael Sam has become the first openly gay player to be drafted into the US National Football League (NFL) when the St Louis Rams took him in the final round.

Sam, who starred as a defensive end for the University of Missouri and went public with his sexuality in February, had an agonisingly long wait for the historic moment on Saturday.

He was taken with the 249th overall selection on the final day of the three-day annual allocation of new talent for the country's most popular sport.

"Thank you to the St Louis Rams and the whole city of St Louis. I'm using every ounce of this to achieve greatness!!" He posted on his Twitter account.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher told the NFL Network: "I'm excited about our draft and excited about the possibility of adding him to our defensive front. After doing the studies, he's a good football player."

Sam will become only the second openly gay player in one of North America's four major professional team sports following basketball's Jason Collins, who joined the NBA's Brooklyn Nets this season.

"I think it's a great day for the NFL and for Michael and his family," Collins told ESPN before taking the court for the Nets' play-off game against the Miami Heat.

As for the significance of the day and what it means for the gay community, Collins said: "It takes more and more people just to come forward. We're normal people and we're just trying to make plays to make our respective teams win."

Source: Agencies