Abby Wambach will say goodbye to soccer on Wednesday. It will be her 255th game when she takes the field at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., against China.
Entering the match, Wambach has 184 international goals to her name, more than any other man or woman in history. On Wednesday, she wrote a goodbye letter to the fans, her teammates and most of all, her sport.
“Knowing when to walk away is one of the most important things an athlete can do,” Wambach wrote. “Being a self-critic is a major part of being successful in professional sports and it’s important to hold yourself to a very high standard. I’ve never let my coaches or teammates hold me to a higher standard than I hold for myself, and that helped me play as long as I have and have the career that I’ve enjoyed.”
Wambach, 35, has played alongside several generations of players while defining her own era. Mia Hamm, the previous holder of the world scoring record with 158 goals, took Wambach under her wings for club and country. As Alex Morgan developed into a star for the U.S. in 2011 and 2012, it was Wambach who played the role of mentor for Morgan.
But Wambach said she can’t choose favorites when it comes to great moments, although finally winning the 2015 World Cup — a trophy she desired for over a decade — “is something that I’ll cherish forever,” she wrote.
Next for Wambach is trying to change the world. As she reflected, Wambach realized how much the world of soccer changed her.
“When I started this journey, I thought I was only going to be a soccer player, but the reality is that we are so much more,” she wrote. “We are motivators, we’re role models, and we’re entertainers.”
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