VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Abby Wambach lifted American coach Jill Ellis after the final whistle. She ran to the stands for a hug from her wife. And then along with Christie Rampone, she became the first American to lift the Women’s World Cup championship trophy in 16 years.
It all equated to a World Cup farewell for Wambach that was confusing, joyous and ultimately satisfying for arguably the greatest American female player.
“I literally don’t know how I feel,” Wambach said. “It’s a bizarre thing that is going on right now because of the way it kind of happened.”
Wambach played what’s expected to be her final World Cup match on Sunday night when the United States beat Japan 5-2 to claim its first title since 1999. Wambach came on as a sub in the 79th minute after the sold-out crowd at BC Place had started to chant her name.
By then, this championship was already decided. After being the catalyst, the one scoring the goals for so many years for the United States in the biggest matches, Wambach was on the bench during an electric first half where the Americans built a commanding 4-1 lead on the strength of a hat trick from captain Carli Lloyd.
“To be quite honest, I felt like I was in a dream sitting there on the bench watching Carli Lloyd go off and I’m so proud to be on this team and proud to be a part of something that in my opinion is really special,” Wambach said.
Ellis made a number of hard decisions throughout the tournament, including the one to bring Wambach off the bench for three of the final four games.
“It’s not easy to not start one of the most decorated goal-scorers in the world, but Jill and our coaching staff was confident and as was I, that person, in the players that were starting ahead of me,” Wambach said.
“I would give up all my individual awards for what we just did tonight and it’s the truth. It’s the wholehearted truth.”
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