While walking off the stage with Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning after accepting an award at the ESPYs in 2016, it dawned upon soccer star Abby Wambach just how different her retirement would be from that of her male counterparts.
Wambach made good but not outrageous money on her way to becoming the all-time leading goal scorer for men or women in international soccer. She realized that she would need a new career after turning the page while Bryant and Manning had already made enough money 10 years into their careers to be set for life.
What is Abby Wambach doing now?
The brief U.S. Women’s National Team tour after winning the 2015 World Cup marked the retirement of Abby Wambach following an impressive career in soccer.
Now 39, she has embarked on a multi-faceted career that includes motivational speaking. She’s also authored two books. The first was the requisite autobiography titled “Forward,” a play on words based on her position in the soccer lineup, her ensuing move into the next phase of her life and the need to put personal problems behind her.
She followed that up with “Wolfpack,” spun from a college commencement address she gave in 2018 as a rallying cry for women to strive for excellence individually and collectively.
Wambach was married to fellow soccer player Sarah Huffman from 2013-16. Following their divorce, she married author and Christian blogger Glennon Doyle in May 2017.
Abby Wambach’s amazing soccer career
After a stellar college career at the University of Florida, Abby Wambach became the centerpiece of the offense for the USWNT from 2001-15.
She retired with 184 goals in international competition, a record for males or females that has since been broken by Christine Sinclair of Canada. The numerous honors she earned included FIFA World Player of the Year in 2012 and six selections as U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.
She was a star performer for the gold medalists in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and 2012 Olympics in London and played in four World Cups, serving primarily as a reserve in 2015 as the United States earned the first of back-to-back championships.
Her goal two minutes into stoppage time in overtime against Brazil in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinals led to the United States winning on penalty kicks and was selected as the best play of the year at the 2011 ESPY Awards.
Speaking out on controversial sports topics
Retirement hasn’t meant a retreat from making headlines for Abby Wambach. She was arrested for driving under the influence in 2016, leading to her confronting her problems with alcohol and prescription drugs including Vicodin.
Wambach also made news shortly after her retirement by criticizing Jurgen Klinsmann, who was then the coach of the United States Men’s National Team. Klinsmann had embraced the practice of using so-called “dual national” players, who often grew up overseas and whose American citizenship was a matter of convenience. Wambach criticized some of those players as being unable to make it in the sport in their own country.
Wambach has also been vocal about the ongoing issue of pay equity between male and female players by the United States Soccer Federation, an issue headed to federal court next month, and has criticized FIFA’s decision to conduct women’s World Cup games on artificial surfaces rather than natural grass.