Born In: Rochester, New York, United States
Abby Wambach is an American retired soccer player whose legacy continues to keep us in awe of her sporting talent. A two-time Olympic gold medalist and a FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, Wambach’s career has been outstandingly brilliant, stringed with numerous achievements and accomplishments. After earning her first cap in 2001, there was no stopping Wambach who continued to perform magically on the field, scoring goals after goals and scripting victories for the US National women’s team. As a forward, she holds the record for being the highest all-time goal scorer for the national team. She also holds the world record for second-highest international goals for both female and male soccer players with 184 goals. Her trademark style of scoring goals with diving headers was much-appreciated, a style that she maintained right from her youth until her last game. Though all her goals have been exceptional, the best and most notable was the one she scored in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil at the 122nd minute. For her performance, she received the Bronze Boot and Silver Ball that year. Abby Wambach’s goal scoring ability, her physical briskness, excellent positional sense, and outstanding work ethics made her one of the most prolific and greatest soccer players of all time.
Also Known As: Mary Abigail Wambach
Spouse/Ex-: Glennon Doyle Melton (m. 2017), Sarah Huffman (m. 2013–2016)
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: New Yorkers
City: Rochester, New York
Abby Wambach was born Mary Abigail Wambach on June 2, 1980 in Rochester, New York, to Pete and Judy Wambach. She is the youngest of seven siblings.
Wambach’s love for soccer started as early as when she was four. Interestingly, it was her elder sister who first decided to play the sport. Inspired by her, she too took to playing the sport.
From 1994 to 1998, she attended Our Lady of Mercy High School. While at school, her game improved exceptionally. She scored 142 goals in her high school career. It was during this time that Wambach extensively practiced diving headers, a skill that later became her signature style as an international player. Her phenomenal records helped her become the top-rated high school player.
She became the captain of the Rochester Spirit club team. Additionally, she was also the member of the Olympic Development Program’s (ODP) U-16 National Team and National U-20 Player Pool. She even trained and played with the U.S. women's national soccer team. She also became a part of the first American youth soccer team to compete in Beijing, China.
Labelled as the top college recruit, it was only natural for Wambach to become intensely sought after by top universities of the country. After much consideration, she finally accepted a full athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville from 1998 to 2001.
In her freshman year, Abby Wambach led her team, Florida Gators, to their first NCAA national championship over the 15-time champions, North Carolina Tar Heels. With her in the team, Florida Gators clutched many titles and championships. She also helped set school career records for goals, assists, points, game-winning goals, and hat tricks. For a decade, she was the leading scorer with 96 goals.
Abby Wambach’s exceptional talent and skill earned her a spot in the national team training camp in 2001. Her first ever match was against Germany at Nike US Cup in Chicago. Her team won the match 4-1. Later, in a match against Finland in San Jose, Wambach scored her maiden international goal, helping her team win the match 3-0.
Meanwhile, her club career started in 2002 when she was selected by Washington Freedom for the second season of Women’s United Soccer Association. She became the leading scorer with ten goals and was named WUSA Rookie of the Year.
In the 2003 season, Wambach helped Washington Freedom win the Founders Cup III. In the final match against Atlanta Beat, she not only scored the second-fastest goal in the history of Founders Cup, but also scored the winning goal to finish the game 2-1.
The year 2003 marked the beginning of Wambach’s international career as she was named to the US roster for the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup team. At FIFA 2003, Wambach’s performance was at par with her previous record. She played outstandingly well, scoring three goals in the tournament, the highest in the US squad.
Post FIFA 2003, she started training with the national team for the 2004 Summer Olympics. Abby Wambach played a crucial role in all the matches. In the final against Brazil, it was her last minute 10-yard header off a corner kick that gave US a 2-1 victory. It was later reckoned as one of the five biggest goals in U.S. women's national team history.
Wambach’s four goals at the 2004 Summer Olympics set a new record by a single US player at an Olympic event. She finished the year with a record 31 international goals and 13 assists in 30 matches for the national team. She finished fourth for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year.
At the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Abby Wambach scored a goal each against North Korea, Sweden, Nigeria, and England. They lost to Brazil in the semi-final, finishing the tournament at the third spot after a win against Norway. During the championship, Wambach scored six goals in six matches. She became the 20th player in U.S. women's national soccer team history to earn 100 international caps.
Despite being named to the 2008 Summer Olympics, which was held in Beijing, China, Wambach couldn’t be a part of the event due to an injury in the left leg. Being a leading scorer for the team and just one shy of 100 international goals, the injury came in as a blow for Wambach.
However, spirited as she was, she lifted the morale of the team who went on to win gold at the tournament.
Wambach’s 100th goal came in a friendly match against Canada in her hometown of Rochester on July 19, 2009. She became the fifth U.S. player and ninth female player in world history to notch up 100 international goals. What’s more, she reached 100 goals in fewer games than any of the four other American players who had previously achieved the feat.
Meanwhile in 2008, a new professional league for women was formed: Women's Professional Soccer (WPS). In the new league, Wambach was assigned to Washington Freedom. She became the top WPS Player in 2009 with eight goals and was named to the 2010 WPS All-Star Team. Her exceptional performance helped her become one of the two captains for the 2010 WPS All-Star Game.
In 2011, Wambach was named in the US roster for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. At the quarterfinals against Brazil, she scored a header goal in stoppage time that set a new record for the latest goal ever scored in a FIFA competition.
In the final against Japan, she scored a goal in the first half, thus becoming the US’s all-time scoring leader in FIFA Women's World Cup history with 13 goals. However, US lost the match to Japan. She received Bronze Boot, Silver Ball, and Silver Medal at the competition.
When in 2012, a new women’s soccer league was announced, Wambach was amongst the few chosen players from the national team. She was allocated to the National Women's Soccer League club, Western New York Flash of her hometown of Rochester, New York, as part of the NWSL Player Allocation. She made her debut on April 14, 2013 against Sky Blue FC.
Abby Wambach was named NWSL Player of the Week for week five after scoring both goals in the victory over FC Kansas City. She became the first player in the league to win the award twice after scoring a goal and serving an assist during the Flash's win over Sky Blue FC.
At the Summer Olympics in 2012, Wambach scored goals in every match except the final. She also scored her 140th international goal in the tournament.
Wambach played her fourth and last FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 in Canada. US won the tournament comfortably, lifting the World Cup. The same year in October, she announced her retirement. The last game that she played was in New Orleans on December 16.
Abby Wambach’s career was outstandingly brilliant throughout. In her international career, she scored 184 goals in 255 international matches to become the leading all-time international scorer for men and women, a record which was overhauled by Christine Sinclair.
She was conferred with the US Soccer Federation’s US Soccer Athlete of the Year Award six times (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2013).
In 2011, Wambach received the prestigious Bronze Boot and Silver Ball at the FIFA Women's World Cup. The same year, she was also awarded the ESPY Award for Best Play for her 122nd-minute equalizing goal against Brazil.
She received gold medals at the 2004 and 2012 Summer Olympics in Athens and London respectively. In 2012, she was bestowed with the FIFA World Player of the Year award, becoming the first American to win the award in a decade.
The US’s victory at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup helped Wambach and her team become the first women's sports team to be honored with a Ticker Tape Parade in New York City. The team was also honored by President Barack Obama at the White House.
She was named in the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world in 2015.
Abby Wambach married her long-time girlfriend Sarah Huffman in Hawaii in October 2013. Three years later, in September 2016, the duo announced their divorce.
In November 2016, Wambach stated that she was in a relationship with author Glennon Doyle. They recited the marital vows in May 2017.
Abby Wambach is an active philanthropist who has raised money for the Epilepsy Foundation and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Along with her teammates, she took part in the Bank of America charitable campaign at the Chicago Marathon. She even served as an ambassador for Athlete Ally.
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