Mia Hamm (USA)
Born: 17 March 1972, Selma, Alabama
275 international caps (158 goals)
Mariel Magret "Mia" Hamm helped bring the women’s game to new heights over the course of her 17-year career. She was the best-known player in the USA women’s national team that dominated the global scene in the 1990s and her 275 caps are a testament to consistency, ability and stamina. The Alabama native made her international debut at just 15 years of age and went on to score 158 goals for the USA – an international goalscoring record which was surpassed by fellow American Abby Wambach.
Hamm became an Olympic champion at Atlanta 1996. This was followed by a silver medal in 2000 at the Olympic Games in Sydney and was capped in 2004 with more Olympic hardware, this time gold again, in Athens. She was part of the US teams that won the first FIFA Women's World Cup™ in China in 1991 and at USA 1999, when the women’s game captured the attention of the world and packed some of the biggest stadiums in North America.
Hamm also participated in the 1995 Women's World Cup in Sweden, where she helped USA to the bronze medal, and the 2003 Women’s World Cup on home soil in which the Americans finished third.
- FIFA Women's World Cup China 1991: Winner
- FIFA Women's World Cup USA 1999: Winner
- Olympic gold medalist: 1996 and 2004
- Olympic silver medalist: 2000
- FIFA Women's World Player of the Year: 2001 and 2002
In addition to unquestionable success on the pitch, Hamm was for years a role model for aspiring younger generations of girls who for so long lacked an icon to look up to. Sponsors came out in force to take full advantage and Hamm – shy and modest off the field – became in many significant ways the face of women’s football.
"In short, I'm just a football player. I've not freed any slaves or changed the world. I just play football and enjoy my success," Hamm once said, speaking to the humility that defines her as a player and a person.
One person unwilling to share Hamm’s limited perception of her impact is Pele, arguably the greatest player in the history of football. The Brazil legend named Hamm and team-mate Michelle Akers as the only female members of the FIFA 100, a collection of the greatest living footballers as selected by O'Rei himself.
“When Mia has the ball at her feet, you have the feeling that something great will happen." These words, from team-mate Julie Foudy, probably best describe Mia Hamm the footballer.