- Football legend Mia Hamm scored 158 international goals
- She played in 23 Women's World Cup matches and lost two
- USA icon says France will be great hosts of the 2019 finals
In her 18-year international career, Mia Hamm saw it all. She won two FIFA Women's World Cups, two Olympic gold medals and was named FIFA Women's World Player of the Year twice. She is also one of the few players to have competed as host of a World Cup twice, winning the trophy famously in front of 90,000 people in 1999 and then falling four years later to an emerging German juggernaut.
Hamm sat down with FIFA.com to look back at her illustrious career and to look forward to the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.
Growth: From two to millions
"The development of the Women’s World Cup from 1991 to 2019 has been dramatic. Every time, it has gained more and more status and prestige and a greater following. I think after we won in 1991, we were greeted by two people when we got home. One was from our federation and one was from the airline we were on... Fast forward to 2015 in Canada and millions of people watched on TV, and the tremendous crowd sizes – not just at the final, but all over the country and in the first-round games. I am really excited to see how many more people, how many more eyes we can get on the 2019 World Cup."
Hosting: Embrace the challenge
"Hosting a World Cup is one of those experiences that for me was very energising. I didn’t look at it as being extra pressure, but as an incredible honour. What’s important for the French team is not to shut out everything that is going on, but to create a safe space when they are off the training field, off the game field, to make sure they continue to stay united and focused. Seeing the level of play with the French team, I'm sure they're going to embrace this opportunity and show their amazing style of play."
Les Bleues: The pay-off
"I remember playing the French national team on several occasions, and I remember the technical skill and the creativity they had. You see through the years their investment in the national team programmes, their investment in a domestic league and how these players can set a new standard for the way football should be played. Being able to watch them today is a joy and an honour because it shows the continued growth of the women’s game."
USA 1999: Magic and momentum
"In 1999, we were able to reach past the general soccer audience in the US. Spectators came who never watched soccer on TV consistently or had only seen the men’s game, but they really wanted to be a part of something special. That’s why that summer was so wonderful. An incredible energy and momentum started to build and next thing you know, we were being talked about on all the national morning shows. You could just see the excitement, and not just from our players, but I remember the first game against Denmark and seeing the joy and the sense of accomplishment in being able to play in front of 50-60,000 people."
Champions: Defending perfection
"I was lucky enough to be at the final in 2015 and to see those women accomplish a dream that every footballer has. To see them do it in such a decisive way [USA 5-2 Japan], to come as close to playing some of the most perfect soccer you can play, and they did it at the right moment. I was on the field afterwards, and there was a tremendous sense of pride. I was overcome with emotion. I had tears in my eyes just knowing how hard they'd worked and how they had embraced being ambassadors and role models for the game."