U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe is ready to retire after an illustrious career in which she won an Olympic gold medal, two World Cups and never shied away from using her platform to spotlight social issues.
Rapinoe, 38, announced Saturday her fourth World Cup at the end of the month will be her last and she’ll officially retire with the OL Reign at the end of the National Women’s Soccer League season.
She made the announcement on Twitter, saying she “never could have imagined the ways in which soccer would shape & change my life forever.”
“It is with a deep sense of peace & gratitude that I have decided this will be my final season playing this beautiful game,” Rapinoe said.
Rapinoe and the U.S. team are aiming for a third consecutive title when the Women’s World Cup kicks off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. plays Wales in a final tune-up match on Sunday in San Jose, California, before leaving for the World Cup.
“I’ve been able to have such an incredible career, and this game has brought me all over the world and allowed me to meet so many amazing people,” Rapinoe said in a news release. “To be able to play one last World Cup and one last NWSL season and go out on my own terms is incredibly special.”
At the 2019 World Cup in France, Rapinoe scored six goals over the course of the tournament, including a penalty in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final. She also finished with three assists and claimed the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for the best overall player. Rapinoe also took home the Ballon d’Or and the Best FIFA Women’s Player awards - the game’s top individual honors - for her play in 2019.
Rapinoe is tied with Abby Wambach for third all-time in assists for the U.S. Women’s National Team and is one of only seven players in team history with more than 50 career goals and assists. She first played for the U.S. senior team in 2006.
Rapinoe has played her entire 11-year NWSL career for the Reign. She has scored the sixth most goals in league history with 48.
An outspoken advocate for equal pay in women’s soccer and supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, President Joe Biden last year awarded Rapinoe the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Rapinoe was the first white athlete and first female to kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, according to U.S. Soccer.
She is engaged to be married to women’s basketball icon Sue Bird.
“She has produced so many memorable moments for her team and the fans on the field that will be remembered for a very long time, but her impact on people as a human being may be even more important,” U.S. women’s team coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
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