Abby Wambach, the leading scorer in the history of international soccer, today announced her retirement from the sport, ending a glorious career having accomplished virtually everything that can be accomplished in the game.
Wambach released this statement. “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.”
Winning the World Cup this summer likely made this decision an easier one for the powerful striker who had long lamented not having a World Cup on her resume.
Wambach retires with 184 international goals in 252 U.S. appearances, two Olympic Gold Medals, one FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Award (2012), and six U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year awards, more than any other player, winning the award in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013.
Never one to shy away from the limelight, Wambach excelled in the biggest games throughout her career scoring nine goals in 10 Olympic matches and 14 in 25 World Cup games, second only to Marta.
Wambach has also been known as a strong advocate for the women’s game, and a strong proponent of players rights. Wambach played in all three women’s professional leagues in the the United States, the WUSA, the WPS, and the NWSL.
Wambach’s decision to forego the 2015 NWSL season to prepare on her own for the 2015 World Cup drew criticism from many quarters, but Wambach was also famously strong willed and never wavered from her decision.
Wambach saw her playing time diminish as the 2015 World Cup progressed and while some had suggested that coach Jill Ellis had been intimidated into playing the veteran, Wambach handled her demotion well and seemed to genuinely relish every moment on the pitch as she helped the U.S. to its first World Cup title since 1999.
Retirement rumors have swirled around the 35 year old since the World Cup ended, so today’s announcement does not comes as a complete surprise.
Wambach will be with the team for all four of its December matches, but her final game for the USA will come on December 16 against China in New Orleans as the USA plays its last match of the 10-game World Cup Victory Tour.