Abby Wambach after the U.S. beat Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women's World Cup, Vancouver, Canada, July 5, 2015. (AP/Elaine Thompson)
Abby Wambach, the leading career scorer — male or female — in international soccer, announced her retirement from soccer on Tuesday shortly after the U.S. national team celebrated its Women's World Cup victory at the White House.
Wambach, 35, said before the World Cup this past summer in Canada that she wanted to cap her 15-year career with the game's most prestigious championship. She got her wish.
Wambach, who grew up in Rochester, New York, has appeared in 252 international matches with 184 goals.
She will play the final four matches of the national team's 10-game victory tour before stepping away from the team. Her final match will be Dec. 16 against China in New Orleans.
"After much deliberation and talking with my friends, family, teammates and our coaching staff, I've decided to finally bring my soccer career to an end," Wambach said in a statement. "While we still have more work to do for women's soccer, after bringing the World Cup back to the United States this summer, I'm feeling extremely optimistic about the future of our sport. It's been an amazing, wonderful ride and I can't wait to see what the next chapter of my life brings."
Before she announced her retirement, Wambach and her teammates were feted by President Barack Obama at the White House.
"This team taught all America's children that playing like a girl means you're a badass," Obama said, to applause in the White House East Room. "Perhaps I shouldn't have used that phrase. Playing like a girl means being the best."
The United States defeated Japan 5-2 in the World Cup title game after a monthlong tournament that crisscrossed Canada. Carli Lloyd was named the tournament's MVP after scoring three goals in the span of 16 minutes in the final match.
Following the ceremony, Wambach took a selfie with Obama and her teammates.
Wambach appeared in four World Cups with the national team. She also has a pair of Olympic gold medals from the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2012 Games in London. She did not compete in the Beijing Games because of a broken leg.
Wambach has also made it her mission to grow the women's game, and to fight for equal rights for female athletes. She led a group of players in protesting FIFA's decision to play the 2015 World Cup on artificial turf, which is considered by many players to be inferior to grass.
"What she has done for women's soccer and women's sports overall with her amazing talents on the field and her personality off it has been inspiring to watch," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "I am just extremely happy that she could end her career with that elusive World Cup title and go out on top, right where she deserves to be."