Kristine Lilly, arguably one of the world’s greatest female soccer players ever, is retiring from the game.
The 39-year-old American midfielder set a world record playing 352 times for the U.S. women’s team.
She is the only player to take part in all five Women’s World Cups, helping the Americans win in 1991 and ‘99. Lilly played on three Olympic teams, winning the gold medal in 1996 and 2004.
The Wilton, Conn., native, starred at the University of North Carolina and was called into the U.S. team when she was 16.
Off the field Lilly was shy and quiet, but on the field, she was a tenacious player with a powerful shot. She was also a free-kick specialist. Lilly notched 130 goals and 105 assists for the American team, only second to Mia Hamm.
“I have decided to retire from the game of soccer,” Lilly said on her website (kristinelilly13.com) today. “It is time! I want to first thank all you fans for the support you have given me, from cheering for me in the stands, watching and yelling at the TV, to the nice emails I have gotten from so many of you throughout the years.”
Lilly stepped away from the game to have a child in 2008, but returned to the national team last year, helping the Americans qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Germany.
She played professionally for the Boston Breakers in the WUSA and WPS.
In 2006 Kristine Lilly was named the MVP of three national tournaments but was overlooked for the FIFA Women’s World Player award.
“It has been a most amazing journey and one that started when I was six years old in my small town of Wilton, Conn.,” Lilly said. “My favorite thing about soccer back then were the orange slices at half time and I can honestly say that I will miss the orange slices but most of all I will miss my friends and the comfort that the soccer field gave me.”
Big changes 2014 World Cup — FIFA, soccer’s governing body, might reintroduce sudden-death overtime at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A FIFA panel, called “Task Force Football 2014” is also looking at scrapping overtime after tied knockout stage matches and changing the points awarded for wins and ties in opening-round game.
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