After 14 years donning the red, white and blue, Abby Wambach has officially ended her professional soccer career, subbing out of a game for the last time at the 72-minute mark on Wednesday, to a raucous, extended standing ovation.
While the U.S. fell to China, 1-0, at New Orleans’ Superdome, the friendly’s most notable moments all centered around celebrating Wambach’s 18,363 minute-long professional career.
Perhaps the most moving instance came with about 20 minutes left in the match, when Christen Press stepped onto the field to sub in for Wambach. As Wambach took off her captain’s armband and her cleats, the 32,950 in the crowd rose to their feet, beginning a two-minute long standing O, with chants of her name paired with the beat of a loudspeaker drum.
“I love you guys, I love this team, this country, and it has been my pleasure and my honor to represent you all, the fans, for as long as I’ve been able to,” Wambach said after the game, beginning to tear up. “… I just want to genuinely express how much I have given myself to this team and how important it is to give all of yourself to whatever you want to do in your life as a passion. I love you guys so much.”
For international soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer, 2015 as a whole has been a yearlong mic drop of sorts. But as an exclamation point to a historic season for women’s soccer, Wambach — one of the faces of the sport for so many years — was able to perfectly execute two literal mic drops in the festivities that surrounded her final minutes on the pitch.
Congratulations on an incredible, glass ceiling-shattering career, Abby. Thanks for all the memories.
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