Abby Wambach has been playing soccer for 30 years, and she's scored more goals than any other person (woman or man) in the history of international soccer. Having won plenty of awards, including Olympic gold, one title had eluded her until this year: At 35, she could finally call herself a World Cup champion. For many, she is the global face of women's soccer and the national team's spiritual leader.
Last night, Wambach played her final professional game, an exhibition match between the U.S. and China that took place in the Superdome in New Orleans with an announced crowd of 32,950. The U.S. lost 1-0, bringing to an end a 104-game unbeaten streak, and Wambach failed to add to her 184 international goal total.
"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," she said. "The reality is, I think symbolically, the way that this game went, I'm walking away, but the future is so bright. These women are going to kill it, I know it. Before I get to emotional I want to express how important it is to give all of yourself to whatever it is you do."
In honor of Wambach's retirement, on Wednesday Gatorade released a moving commercial titled "Forget Me" this week. The minute-long ad features Wambach in a lockerroom, packing up her gear and tossing the nameplate on her locker into the trash.
She grows emotional, and her voiceover is poignant as she explains that she hopes, one day, nobody will remember her name or her accomplishments because of how far the sport will have gone.