Megan Rapinoe announces she will be retiring at the end of the NWSL season


Megan Rapinoe, the iconic face of the United States women’s national team, announced Saturday that she will be retiring at the end of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season and that the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be her last.

Rapinoe made the announcement at a press conference in San Jose the day before she and the USWNT head off for what will be Rapinoe’s fourth World Championship.

She will leave the sport this fall after winning at least two world championships, one Olympic gold and millions of fans.

And she will leave with “a really deep sense of peace, gratitude and excitement,” she said.

“I could never have imagined where this beautiful game would have taken me,” Rapinoe added in a soulful voice.

Rapinoe said she made the decision in the last 12 months but had “been thinking about it for a long time” since 2019, when she rose to unprecedented fame by leading the USA to their fourth title at the Women’s World Cup. At the same time, she helped lead the USWNT’s fight for equal pay, competed with then-President Donald Trump, and became a renowned advocate for social justice.

After this World Cup she had countless opportunities. “There are so many opportunities that I have and so many that I really care about. Sometimes I get frustrated because I can’t do both.” [soccer and everything else]she told Emox News last year.

She also struggled with minor injuries and last year considered retiring. But she felt she had more to bring to football, so she stayed true to the game and returned to USWNT.

USWNT and NWSL star Megan Rapinoe announced Saturday that she will be retiring at the end of the season. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, file)

However, no one expected Rapinoe, now 38, to compete in a fifth World Cup in 2027. She had been asked “thousands of times” – including by Emox News last month – if this World Cup would be her last, and each time she refused to say. But that felt “weird,” she admitted on Saturday.

“Of course I won’t play next time, my God,” she said with a smile. “That would be a whole scene.”

She said she’s looking forward to playing the final half of the season and looking forward to retiring, but of course she’ll miss a few things. When asked what she will remember most from her 15-year career, she highlighted “all the moments that are just team spirit — in the dressing room, in the mediation rooms, on the bus. In the banquet rooms in hotels. The funny moments.” , the really hard moments. All those little things that no one gets to see. …

“It’s something that can never be repeated,” she continued. “There are certain things in the game that I think just need to grieve about walking away. I will never spend a moment in this Paris stadium.” [at the 2019 World Cup]. … I’ll never have those moments in the locker room again where I can watch my teammates come back from pregnancy, or watch people struggle and be in the depths of shit, and watch me in the in the depths of things and am able to emerge from them in so many ways.

“I think it’s all of those moments. The greatest moments we know are captured on YouTube, and they can be voiced forever. But all the little moments that we can’t share with everyone, I think is what’s special for all of us.”

Rapinoe’s club side, the OL Reign, said in a related statement on Saturday that they will “commemorate Rapinoe’s illustrious career” at their final home game of the regular season on Oct. 6. The game will be titled Forever Reign: A Celebration of Megan Rapinoe.”

The national team is also likely to announce details of a celebratory game in Rapinoe’s honor after the World Cup.

Rapinoe said the timing of the announcement, months in advance, was inspired in part by her fiancée, Sue Bird, whose final WNBA season turned into a farewell tour of the league.

“I just want to enjoy every moment and be able to share it with teammates, friends and family and the rest of the world,” Rapinoe said. “I understand that it’s extremely rare for athletes of any stature to be able to go out there their own way, on their own terms, at the time they want, and in a way that feels really peaceful and relaxed to them . I feel that.” I’m very grateful to be here and to have the trust of this team and that my body has endured this long to be able to do this.”

She also said she wanted to “sort of get this over with before we go to New Zealand so we can focus on the task at hand, which is winning another World Cup.”

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