Megan Rapinoe bid fans an emotional farewell after her final game with the U.S. Women’s National Team on Sunday, a triumphant end to her storied career at the pinnacle of American soccer.
The U.S. defeated South Africa 2-0 on Sunday, a final victory for the superstar, who told fans it had been an “honor to wear this shirt and play out my childhood dream.”
“We have fought so hard on the field, had so much fun, been so successful,” she told fans in Chicago. “We fought so hard off the field to continue to create more space for ourselves to be who we are, but hopefully in turn more space for you guys to be who you are.”
Rapinoe, 38, made 203 appearances with the team and scored 63 goals, a storied, 17-year career on the field. Off it, she became an emblem of the team’s fight for equal pay and gender equity and a fierce advocate for social rights. The team reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with U.S. Soccer last year as part of an equal pay lawsuit, a victory she said was far more of a lasting legacy than her performance on the pitch.
The highlights from Chicago 🎥 pic.twitter.com/BaAxagMtvv
— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) September 25, 2023
“It says a lot about us that everything on the field I feel pales in comparison to what we’ve achieved off the field,” Rapinoe said this weekend, per The Guardian. “But I think even in the years prior to that, being so vocal about racial justice and gay rights and just feeling like the team really stepped into a new era of itself and took upon itself to be so much more than what we were on the field.”
She announced her impending retirement in July, just days before the U.S. competed in the Women’s World Cup in Australia. She said at the time she was leaving the game with “a deep sense of peace & gratitude” after winning an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and two World Cup trophies.
“I never could have imagined the ways in which soccer would shape & change my life forever, but by the look on this little girl’s face, she knew all along,” she wrote at the time.
It is with a deep sense of peace & gratitude that I have decided this will be my final season playing this beautiful game. I never could have imagined the ways in which soccer would shape & change my life forever, but by the look on this little girl’s face, she knew all along. pic.twitter.com/XGZ1T9i7Wy
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) July 8, 2023
Rapinoe will have a few more games with Seattle’s OL Reign through the end of the National Women’s Soccer League season.