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Abby Wambach of the U.S. women’s national soccer team who helped win the World Cup this summer played her last game Wednesday night in New Orleans against China. According to ABC.com, she made her announcement Tuesday.
“After much deliberation and talking with my friends, family, teammates and our coaching staff, I’ve decided to finally bring my soccer career to an end,” ABC reports. “While we still have more work to do for women’s soccer, after brining the World Cup back to the United States this summer, I’m feeling extremely optimistic about the future of our sport. It’s been an amazing, wonderful ride and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of my life brings.”
The famous striker was named 2012 FIFA Player of the Year and she’s ending her run with 184 goals in 252 international games. Her career gave her four World Cups with the U.S. Women’s National Team and two Olympic gold medals from the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2012 Games in London — giving her the recognition as the all-time leading U.S scorer in the Olympic and World Cup games.
Wambach and Mia Hamm are the only Americans to win FIFA Player of the Year.
Wambach is simply an inspirational role model for young women, making it her mission to help expand the women’s game and fighting for equal rights. She tells SI.com,
“Since I retired I’ve felt the inequalities that I allowed to happen to me throughout my career — and when you’re in it, it’s harder to see and feel the disparity, and there’s a lot fear that goes on, which is probably why you can’t see it so clearly. I think stepping away and getting more perspective has allowed me to see more clearly what really needs to happen. To be quite honest, I’ve been getting a little bit mad at myself for not fighting more while I was in it. I kind of promised myself I’d do whatever I can at this point to make sure this next generation of studs that hangs their cleats up is going to feel differently about their retirement than I do. I want them to have more choice and options than I do.” She continues to say, “I’m going to change the world so that no woman who has done the things I’ve been able to do or have the course of the career I’ve had will have to make the same decisions. Somebody has to make equality real and happen. I know it’s a huge undertaking. And I know saying the words changing the world is such an arbitrary thing. How are you going to do that? I know all these questions will come. But I am just going to do it.”
U.S. coach Jill Ellis says of Wambach, “What she has done for women’s soccer and women’s sports overall with her amazing talents on the filed and her personality off it has been inspiring to watch. I am just extremely happy that she could end her career with that elusive World Cup title and go out on top, right where she deserves to be.”
Abby Wambach may be hanging up her cleats, but she won’t stop working to create the change for women — in and out of the sports world. And in case you missed it, Wambach’s teammates from the U.S. women’s national soccer team put together a tribute video — needless to say it’s a must watch.