A U.S. soccer star's last World Cup. Megan Rapinoe : Playing for the U.S. was '' the greatest thing I have ever done''.

Megan Rapinoe, the iconic star who has transcended her sport to become one of the most outspoken, accomplished and dynamic athletes of her generation, didn't want to wait until the end to say this season would be the end.

She wasn't going to play game after game at the Women's World Cup, which starts this month in Australia and New Zealand, holding it in that she would retire at the conclusion of this year, after her last big tournament for the United States and her final season for her professional team.

In perfect Rapinoe fashion, there was no way she could remain silent about something important to her.

So at a news conference on Saturday ahead of Sunday's U.S. game against Wales in San Jose, Calif., Rapinoe, 38, announced that it was time for her to say goodbye.

'' I just want to say thank you to everybody,'' she told a room full of reporters as the U.S. team prepares to fly to New Zealand for the Women's World Cup.

'' I could never have imagined where this beautiful game would have taken me.'' She called playing for the national team '' the greatest thing that I have ever done.''

After 17 years on team U.S.A. and nearly as many years speaking out to support various issues including L.G.B.T.Q. rights, equal play, the Black Lives Matter movement and voter rights, Rapinoe will play in her fourth Women's World Cup said her final season in the National Women's Soccer League.

She said she feels peaceful and grateful that she can end her career on her own terms, and at the top of her sport, too.

During a career that is filled with highlight-reel material both on and off the field, Rapinoe has played in 199 games for the national team and has scored 63 goals for the United States.

She is a three-time Olympian and won gold with her team at the 2012 London Games. And it seems that exactly when her team needed it the most, she has come through with clutch plays, making her mark as a creative and dangerous forward.

Perhaps nothing exemplified her ability to perform under pressure more than when she scored twice in a quarterfinal against France at the 2019 World Cup.

Her goal came just days after former president Donald J. Trump criticized her on Twitter for her stance that she wouldn't go to the Trump White House if her team won the tournament. Trump said : '' Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!''

Rapinoe, however, did not flinch. In the fifth minute of that match against France, she scored on a free kick and ran to the corner of the field, stretched her arms out wide and basked in the applause of the fans.

Sporting hair dyed purple that often changed color with the season, she scored again in the second half to catapult the team into the  semifinals, with a 2-1 victory.

The Americans went on to win that world title, their second in a row.

One thing she learned '' very, very early on, '' Rapinoe said, is that '' If there's one second on the clock, that's enough time.''

The World Students Society thanks Juliet Macur and Claire Fahy.


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