Abby Wambach, one of the most prominent female soccers of all time, stepped onto the pitch for her final game tonight. Despite the USWNT losing 0-1 to China with an own goal, Abby urged fans to “smile” before going out in classic Wambach fashion with a literal mic drop on live air. According to USA Today, fellow retired women’s soccer legends Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm were in attendance to root for Abby and the entire USWNT during the last game of the their Victory Tour.
Wambach, the all team leading scorer for the United States, announced her retirement in late October after much speculation regarding her status with the USWNT following her limited play in the World Cup. The 35-year-old Wambach has been a member of the team since 2003. On top of her record for most international goals, Abby is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, World Cup champion, and six-time U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.
Mia Hamm, the player who previously held the record for most goals scored prior to Abby Wambach overtaking the record in 2013, told fellow former USWNT teammate, and current ESPN soccer commentator, Julie Foudy that Wambach’s impact goes beyond that of how she has inspired her current and former teammates, but also upcoming generations of soccer players in what true devotion to a team and sport looks like.
“Abby has given every single ounce of her being to this team,” Hamm said of Wambach’s devotion to the sport, “You’ve seen staples put in her head at half time so she could go back into the game. She has put everything on the line for this team and I think it’s only fitting, not just on this day but for months to come we continue to say ‘thanks Abby.'”
Wambach’s current teammates, and USWNT sponsor Nike, put together an emotional video of their reflections in playing with Abby.
While fans may not remember every single one of Abby Wambach’s 184 career goals, often scored with her head, they took to Twitter to share some of their favorite highlights with the hashtags #OnlyOneAbby and #ThanksAbby sending Wambach off in style.
— WNY Flash (@WNYFlash) December 16, 2015
— Kendall Pryor (@CoachKPryor) December 17, 2015
— AO Philly Chapter (@AOPhillyChapter) December 11, 2015
Wambach herself, however, did something peculiar with her own Twitter account. Shortly after launching her goodbye commercial for Gatorade entitled “Forget Me,” Abby deleted all of her social media accounts including her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, according to Forbes.
Ever the true definition of a team player, the Gatorade commercial features Abby Wambach cleaning out her locker and ends with her reflection on wanting to be remembered for the things she accomplished, but forgotten because the game of soccer has progressed beyond Wambach’s accomplishments.
“I want to leave a legacy where the ball keeps rolling forward, where the next generation accomplishes things so great that I am no longer remembered,” Wambach says. “So forget me, because the day I’m forgotten is the day we will succeed.”
Watch Abby Wambach’s final Gatorade commercial below.
Though it’s difficult to believe that someone like Wambach, who is often referred to as “the G.O.A.T” or “Greatest Of All Time,” will be forgotten, one can only hope that the USWNT will continue on their meteoric rise as the best team in the the world. There may only be one Abby, but at one point in time there was only one Brandi, and only one Mia. Abby Wambach proved that new legends are waiting on the sidelines for the opportunity to arise.
[Abby Wambach cover image courtesy of Chris Graythen/Getty Images.]