Abby Wambach
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As is her wont, this powerful American striker was a perpetual thorn in the side of defences at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, from which she emerged with impressive statistics. Her five goals and fine understanding with Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe were crucial to the Americans’ triumph at the tournament.

Her career
With an imposing physical presence and precise nose for goal, Wambach is often deemed one of the most dangerous goalscorers in the world. The striker, who is just shy of six feet tall, has amassed 125 goals to date since bursting onto the international scene in 2002, boasting the best goals per game ratio in USA history.

However, it was not until the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 that Wambach produced her first eye-catching displays in front of goal, helping USA to a third-placed finish. Wambach, who was playing in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) in the United States at the time with Washington Freedom, not only clinched her first of four US Soccer Female Athlete of the Year awards but also won the WUSA championship with Freedom.

Under the mentorship of two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Mia Hamm at both club and international level, Wambach embarked on an incredible 2004, notably at the Greece Olympics. There she stepped out of the shadows of a golden generation that included the likes of Hamm and Kristine Lilly to help the Americans clinch gold with an extra-time winner against Brazil in the final. After scoring four goals at that tournament, a number that had never been matched at an Olympic Tournament by a USA player, the forward completed an impressive year with 31 goals in 30 matches.

And although Wambach has claimed gold at an Olympic Tournament, a FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy still eludes her as USA went on to secure another third-placed finish at China 2007. But the year was still one of significant achievement for the frontwoman, who won the adidas Silver Shoe at China 2007 and hit 100 appearances with USA.

A broken leg halted Wambach from international competition midway through 2008, causing her to miss the Beijing Olympics, but with the return of a women’s professional league in the United States in 2009, Wambach soon returned to goalscoring form. Again playing for Washington Freedom, this time under the guise of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), Wambach worked towards her international return and then later scored her 100th international goal against Canada in July. 

Lauded for her unmatched ability in the air, scoring nearly half of her career total with her head, Abby Wambach returned to her aerial ways at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™. After missing out on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing through injury, Wambach embarked on an incredible return to form over the past three years, and made her most notable impact to date at this summer’s global showpiece.

The 31-year-old forward spearheaded USA’s inspirational run into the Final, nodding home an extra-time equaliser against Brazil in the quarter-finals. The goal not only levelled the score at 2-2 to send the match into penalties, where the Americans eventually won through to the semi-finals, but proved to be the latest goal ever scored in the history of the tournament.

Wambach scored a total four goals at Germany 2011, tallying all with her head en route to claiming both the adidas Silver Ball and the adidas Bronze Boot.