Abby Wambach would trade it all for World Cup crown with USA

Abby Wambach
Abby Wambach was part of a USA side that beat England in Milton Keynes in February

The world's all-time international leading goalscorer says she would swap all of her individual accolades to lift the World Cup with the USA this summer.

Abby Wambach, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and former Fifa Player of the Year, will make this year's World Cup in Canada her last.

Making her debut in 2001, the 34-year-old has since scored 178 times for the USA, but a World Cup crown eludes her.

"There would be nothing like winning a World Cup," she told BBC Sportsworld.

"I would trade all the individual awards I've won for a World Cup."

Wambach, who turns 35 six days before USA's opener against Australia on 8 June, is also a six-time U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year winner.

But with her country's last World Cup triumph coming in 1999, and having finished as a beaten finalist against Japan in 2011, the USA captain says a global crown would cap a spectacular international career.

"The idea of standing on the podium at the end of the tournament in Canada, getting a gold medal wrapped around my neck and lifting the trophy at the end gives me goosebumps," she added.

"This will be my last World Cup. I don't know how else you would cap off a career like mine in a better way."

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In 2014, Wambach broke Mia Hamm's international record of 158 goals. Hamm was one of her idols growing up and Wambach hopes to leave her own legacy on women's sport in the USA.

However, the Western New York Flash forward will take this season off from the National Women's Soccer League in order to prepare for the World Cup.

"When I was really young, the women's national team wasn't on a grand media stage so my role models were male basketball and male American football players," she explained.

"Hopefully, when I leave the game I'm leaving it better than I found it. There's really no better way to describe a successful career.

"I don't care how many championships you've won or how many records you've broken - if you've had a hand in pushing forward not only a game but women in sport's movement, then I think that's pretty darn good."

And she is confident about the USA's chances in Canada.

Wambach added: "I feel like when the stakes are higher our team rises to that occasion, we thrive on those environments.

"One of our strengths is our team is so deep and our coach staff is putting us in a position to not only play well, but play many players."

Abby Wambach and Hope Solo
Abby Wambach receives her 2012 Fifa Player of the Year award from team-mate Hope Solo

One of those players is likely to be goalkeeper Hope Solo, who was suspended for 30 days earlier this year after she was a passenger when her husband was arrested for "driving under the influence".

"We all have stuff going on, whether it's good or bad, and I think Hope being back in this environment is good news for her and for us," said Wambach.

"We need that veteran experience, leadership and talent in goal. She's a fantastic player, someone we rely on to make saves and rely on in the World Cup."

Born in Rochester, New York, Wambach felt she was always destined for a career in professional sport, but, along with wife Sarah Huffman, is now starting to think about starting her own family.

"I'm the youngest of seven siblings. Two girls, four boys, then me," said Wambach. "I really do feel like I was being bred to become a professional athlete.

"They never let me win and every single one claims that they were the one who impacted on me to have the level of success that I've been able to achieve throughout my career.

"I'm excited for my career after my career. I would love to be a mum if I'm blessed to have children. My wife and I have those plans.

"Dedicating my life to the game for so many years, I'm pretty cool right now. I really have to start working on that pretty soon after I retire. I'd love to be a stay-at-home mom but I'm going to still be involved in the sport."

'Canada Calling' will air on the BBC World Service on Sunday at 1800 BST.

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