U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe was injured just minutes into the National Women's Soccer League final on Saturday, bringing a gutting end to her illustrious career.
The non-contact injury in the third minute forced a substitution of the 38-year-old. Rapinoe limped off the pitch with the help of training staff and watched the rest of match, in which her OL Reign lost 2-1 to Gotham FC, from the sideline.
Rapinoe told CBS Sports Golazo Network, the streaming service focused on soccer coverage, that she was "pretty sure" she tore her Achilles tendon on the field.
"This is a tough one," Rapinoe said. "Definitely not how I envisioned this last one going ... So proud of the group, obviously. They put everything out there. So deserving to Gotham. They've had such a great year."
Now 38, Rapinoe had previously announced her plans to retire from soccer following Saturday's championship. But she was subbed out of the match just a few minutes into the first half, after sustaining a non-contact injury that took her down onto the turf and required medical attention.
Rapinoe ultimately stood up and left the field on her own, although she was limping and appeared to have hurt her ankle. She returned to the sidelines wearing a boot as one of Rapinoe's teammates, Bethany Balcer, took her place in the game.
The OL Reign eventually lost the championship match 2-1 to Gotham FC. The championship also marked the final match before retirement for Ali Krieger, with the winning team, who came up in professional soccer alongside Rapinoe on the U.S. Women's National Team.
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Rapinoe shared her gratitude as she reflected on her career.
"Thank you to everyone who's been on the journey for all this time," Rapinoe said through tears. "It's been amazing. Maybe besides this, I couldn't have written it any different."
"Just super proud of my whole career and really thankful for all that it's given me and for how long I've been able to play, so even though it was a tough night, it was still amazing and so thankful to be here," she continued. "Again, so proud of our group, and congrats to Gotham."
Rapinoe has become one of the most recognized names in professional sports, both within the U.S. and internationally, owing to her decorated and lengthy tenure in women's soccer and her activism off the pitch. She won gold with the national team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics and is a two-time winner of the FIFA Women's World Cup. Rapinoe was also co-captain of the Women's National Team with fellow soccer stars Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan from 2018 until 2020, and was awarded the Ballon d'Or Féminin as well as the Best FIFA Women's Player title in 2019.
In 2020, Rapinoe appeared on Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People list, and, in 2022, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Biden.