Wambach to call time on Cup, mum about Rio 2016

USA forward Abby Wambach speaks during a press conference in Vancouver on July 3, 2015 two days ahead of 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final football match against Japan.
USA forward Abby Wambach speaks during a press conference in Vancouver on July 3, 2015 two days ahead of 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final football match against Japan.PHOTO: AFP

VANCOUVER • United States striker Abby Wambach will definitely play her final Women's World Cup game in tonight's final against the defending champions Japan.

However, she refused to be drawn on Friday about her plans after the tournament ends.

The 35-year-old forward, who has scored a record 183 goals in 247 international appearances, is likely to start on the bench against Japan.

It was expected that Wambach would continue with the national team into the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics but she said on Friday: "All I am thinking about is the performance against Japan."

She has not forgotten the heartbreak four years ago when the Americans were beaten by Japan in the World Cup final.

IN A LEAGUE OF HER OWN

An Olympic champ who would do anything for anybody, give the shirt off my own back for them and of course, last but not least, a World Cup champion. That is what I want my legacy to be.

ABBY WAMBACH, the US striker, on how she wants to be remembered

Now, they have another shot at taking the coveted crown.

"It's a constant reminder. It's been a constant reminder," Wambach said, referring to the final defeat by Japan in 2011.

"It has been that thing that has been within us, that fuels our fire, that motivates us.

"All I care about is winning this World Cup."

The 2012 Fifa World Player of the Year and twice Olympic champion, however, was willing to talk about what her legacy would be.

"I want to be remembered as an authentic team player," she said.

"Whether I was the go-to player, whether I was the rookie, whether I was the kid who couldn't shut up and literally needed to be told to shut up many times by the coaches and team-mates.

"An Olympic champ who would do anything for anybody, give the shirt off my own back for them and of course, last but not least, a World Cup champion. That is what I want my legacy to be."

The American players were unstinting in their praise for Wambach and coach Jillian Ellis paid tribute to the way that the veteran had handled being on the bench.

"We had early conversations and, from day one, Abby is committed to doing whatever it takes. She said, 'Whatever role is needed, I will deliver'," she said. "She has been exemplary in terms of what she has given to this team and how she has conducted herself."

Captain Carli Lloyd said Wambach had been a true leader of the team. "We wouldn't be where we are without her," she said. "She has been tremendous over the years and I want nothing more than to help her legacy and to win the World Cup." REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 05, 2015, with the headline 'Wambach to call time on Cup, mum about Rio 2016'. Print Edition | Subscribe