Adam Johnson deserves a second chance at his football career, according to a charity for people with criminal convictions.
The former England international is believed to have been released from prison after serving three years for child sex offences.
It is expected that Johnson will find it very hard to find a route back into English football, while his conviction would make playing abroad difficult.
But Christopher Stacey, the co-director of Unlock, believes Johnson should not be prevented from returning to his job.
He said: "People leave prison every day and face difficulties with getting work. It's especially difficult for people convicted of sexual offences.
"The media fascination with Adam Johnson says less about him and his crime and more about us as a society. Do we want people to be punished forever?
"All the evidence shows that re-offending is reduced where people have stable accommodation and sustainable employment. This shouldn't be about a 'disgraced footballer', it should be about making communities safer."
The Football Association said it had "put in place the appropriate safeguarding restrictions" on Johnson, but would not be commenting further.
Johnson, a former winger for Sunderland, Manchester City and Middlesbrough, was sentenced to six years for engaging in sexual activity with a besotted 15-year-old fan in 2016.
Witnesses said Johnson's father, Dave Johnson, was seen driving a Mercedes people carrier with blacked-out rear windows out of HMP Moorland, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in the early hours of Friday morning.
The vehicle was followed out of the prison complex by a police van.
The same car was later spotted arriving at Johnson's home in Castle Eden.
Friday's release comes exactly halfway through the player's six-year sentence.