October 27, 2015
By Charles Cuttone
GOING OUT ON TOP
With World Cup win, Abby Wambach decides to retire
Having finally won the sport's ultimate prize, Abby Wambach has decided to call it a career at the age of 35.
|Abby Wambach is calling it quits, finishing her career as a World Cup winner.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The all-time leading international goal scorer will play her final game on December 16 in New Orleans when the United States plays China at the Superdome.
"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," said Wambach. "While we still have more work to do for women's soccer, after bringing 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."
Wambach currently has 252 caps, which is fifth all-time in U.S. history, and 184 goals, far and away the most scored by any man or woman in international soccer. She began her international career in September of 2001 at the age of 21 when she debuted against Germany. She will be with the team for its four remaining games in December.
An intense competitor, Wambach became known for clutch goal scoring, as well as consistency. She led the USA in scoring in every world championship she played until the most recent Women's World Cup this summer in Canada. During the 2015 Women's World Cup, she scored the winning goal in a crucial 1-0 victory against Nigeria in the final game of group play.
A two time Olympic Gold Medalist, she played in four World Cups, but was not part of the winning team until this past summer, but it certainly wasn't for lack of superior effort and drama, and the ability to sometimes lift the team on her shoulders and carry it. Perhaps her most famous goal, and one of the most dramatic in soccer history was her 122nd minute header against Brazil in the 2011 Women's World Cup quarterfinal.
"Abby is a player who has transcended our sport and her legacy as one of the world's greatest players is set forever," said U.S. head coach Jill Ellis. "What she has done for women's soccer and women's sports overall with her amazing talents on the field 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."
Wambach took last season off from the National Women's Soccer League in order to rest and train for the World Cup, an effort to mainly shield her battered body from the rigors of league play, perhaps signaling that she planned to retire after the Women's World Cup.
Her international resume is spectacular. She finishes as the USA's all-time leading scorer in both World Cup and Olympic competition, playing in 25 World Cup matches with 14 goals. In the Olympics she played 10 matches, scoring nine goals, that with missing the 2008 games because of a broken leg suffered in the final preparation game.
She was the 2012 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year and is the only American to win that honor besides Mia Hamm. She was the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year more than any other player, winning the award six times (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013), and her team's were virtually unbeatable when she scored a goal, posting a 116-2-8 record.
In her career, Wambach scored just over 500 goals for her high school, college, professional club teams and the U.S. Women's National Team youth and senior sides. She scored 142 goals in high school at Our Lady of Mercy, scored 96 for the University of Florida, 23 in the WUSA for the Washington Freedom, 30 in WPS for the Washington Freedom and magicJack and 14 in the NWSL for the Western New York Flash. She also scored 10 times for the U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team.