Abby Wambach Officially Announces Retirement From USWNT- ‘It’s Been An Amazing, Wonderful Ride’

USWNT soccer veteran Abby Wambach officially announced her retirement from the sport today. Wambach had been elusive about her plans following the United States World Cup victory, and when pressed by USA Today about her future, Abby had previously responded with the answer, “I’ve given a lot of thought to it and that’s a good question. I think in the coming days, weeks, months, I’ll let you guys know.”

Well, Wambach apparently has finally made her decision. According to ESPN, Abby released a statement confirming her retirement from the sport following the USWNT final exhibition match of their victory tour on December 16 in New Orleans.

“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,” Wambach stated. Abby went on to say that she had achieved her goal of bringing the World Cup back to the United States and while there is much work still ahead for the sport of soccer, Wambach is “optimistic about the future of the sport.”

Abby Wambach is the leading all time international scorer for U.S. Soccer, including having outscored her male counterparts. The 35-year-old Wambach, a forward known for using her height and strength to head the ball in, had struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities during the 2015 World Cup. Wambach found herself benched in favor of younger, faster players on a couple of occasions during the Cup, but it was Abby’s leadership ability that kept the team motivated and fresh with several mediocre games culminating into a dominating victory over Japan.

Wambach’s retirement announcement came fresh on the heels of the USWNT visit to the White House to celebrate their World Cup victory with President Obama. The Bleacher Report states that Wambach and her USWNT teammates as well as coach Jill Ellis took the opportunity to present the President with his own USWNT jersey. Pictures of various members of the USWNT circulated through social media, including a selfie with President Obama in which Wambach apparently accidentally cut her own face out of the picture.

Abby’s announcement prompted many “thank you’s” to flood Twitter, not just from Wambach’s fans, but from her colleagues as well.

Abby Wambach’s career for the United States has spanned 15 years. In 252 game appearances, Wambach scored 184 goals and had 73 assists. Abby is a six-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of The Year award. In the 2011 World Cup, Wambach was awarded the Bronze Boot and Silver Ball. In 2012, Abby Wambach won the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year, a feat that had not been achieved by an American in 10 years since Mia Hamm was the recipient. Wambach also holds two Olympic Gold Medals, having missed the 2008 Olympics with a broken leg suffered after a collision with Brazil’s Andreia Rosa in an exhibition match, an injury that many feared would end Wambach’s career.

While Wambach’s on the field talent undoubtedly has sealed her fate as a United States soccer legend, it is her perseverance, hard work, and demeanor that will make her a forever fan favorite. Abby took a moment to thank everyone for their support.

As many fellow writers and fans have already expressed, we have been fortunate to witness an elite athlete of Abby Wambach’s caliber on the soccer field. The sport is better for having had you in it. You will be missed Abby.

[Abby Wambach cover photo provided courtesy of Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images]