World's all-time leading scorer Abby Wambach announces her retirement from soccer

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CHICAGO -- Abby Wambach, the leading scorer in the history of international soccer and one of the world's all-time greatest players, has announced her retirement.

Wambach, 35, will end a spectacular 15-year international career that began in September of 2001 at the age of 21 when she debuted against Germany. She currently has 252 caps, which is fifth all-time in U.S. history, and 184 goals, far and away the most scored by any man or woman in international soccer.

Wambach will be with the team for all four of its December matches, but her final game for the USA will come on Dec. 16 against China PR in New Orleans as the USA plays its last match of the 10-game Victory Tour to celebrate the championship at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

"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," said Wambach. "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."

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Wambach, long known as one of the most intense competitors in U.S. history whose years of clutch goal scoring made her a fan favorite, led the USA in scoring in every world championship she played until the most recent Women's World Cup this summer in Canada. During the 2015 Women's World Cup, she scored the winning goal in a crucial 1-0 victory against Nigeria in the final game of group play.

Always one to embrace her position as a role model, as her athletic accolades grew over the years she became a leading voice for women's sports as well as for her generation of female soccer players and athletes.

"Abby is a player who has transcended our sport and her legacy as one of the world's greatest players is set forever," said U.S. head coach Jill Ellis. "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. 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."

Among her many famous goals is of course the header against Brazil in the 122nd minute of the 2011 Women's World Cup quarterfinal which will go down as one of the most dramatic goals in soccer history and played a major role in spurring the current popularity of this group of U.S. WNT players.

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