The 35-year-old, who helped lead the U.S. to victory at the Women’s World Cup earlier this year, was honored in a special pregame ceremony before the match against China in New Orleans.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist stood on the field while fans in the crowd cheered and held signs as an announcer read off a list of her sparkling accomplishments.
Wambach was gifted flowers and her family walked onto the field to honor her, before the match kicked off.
The athlete exited the game – which the U.S. ultimately lost, 1-0 – in its 72-minute. As she left the field for the final time, Wambach removed her cleats and hugged her teammates while the packed stadium rose to give her a standing ovation.
Cheers of her name could be heard as she said goodbye to the game that many call her the best ever at. Wambach is, in fact, the all-time leading international goal-scorer in women s soccer history.
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Despite the loss – and her teammates’ valiant efforts to get her a final goal – Wambach told Fox Sports she felt at peace with her decision to retire.
“Today wasn’t about winning, today was about celebrating a long career, almost an end of an era,” she shared, “not just for me but for the next generation.”