US legendary forward, Megan Rapinoe wrapped up her glistering international career as the USA defeated South Africa 2-0 in Chicago on Sunday.
Rapinoe started the game and received a standing ovation from the fans at Soldier Field when she was substituted after 54 minutes.
Rapinoe captained the USA for her final game and provided an assist. The crowd erupted when, in the first few minutes of the second half, Rapinoe’s corner kick found Emily Sonnett, who scored with a header.
She had earlier announced prior to the 2023 FIFA World Cup that she would retire from football when the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season ends.
“So overwhelming. It has been amazing,” Rapinoe said of the reception she received at Sunday’s friendly.
She added, “It has been really wonderful to hear all the nice things, to have a closure moment, and to play in front of a big crowd again.
“I’ll miss it forever. I don’t think I’ll ever be at a moment where it will feel perfect, but this is pretty close.”
The 38-year-old made her debut for the USA in 2006 and scored 63 goals, provided 73 assists, and won 203 caps in the course of her stellar career.
She also won the World Cup in 2015 and 2019.
The 2019 Ballon d’Or winner represented the United States of America at four World Cups and also led her country to win gold at the 2012 Olympics in London.
After Sunday’s win, an emotional Rapinoe tried to fight back tears during her farewell speech as she appreciated fans for their unwavering support over the past 17 years.
She said, “I feel like I’ve been able to grow up in front of all of you.
“It has been such an honour to be able to wear this shirt and play with all these amazing players and to just live out my childhood dream, casually, just like in front of the world.”
Rapinoe also said, “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.
“I’m not going to go away forever. Don’t worry. I’m one of you guys now.”
Rapinoe is set to officially retire from professional football on October 15, when her club, NWSL side OL Reign, plays their final game of the season at the Chicago Red Stars.