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Abby Wambach to retire from soccer at end of 2015

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  • United States' Abby Wambach arrives for FIFA Women's World Cup soccer practice in Vancouver

Abby Wambach, the leading scorer in international soccer history and the 2012 world Player of the Year, will retire after the United States women’s national team ends its World Cup victory tour in December.

Wambach, 35, made 252 appearances for the U.S. in a 15-year international career, playing in four World Cups and scoring 184 goals — by far the most for any men’s or women’s player. She is expected to add to both totals before the end of the year; Wambach will be with the United States for the four December matches of its current tour. Her final game will be a Dec. 16 match against China in New Orleans.

"After much deliberation and talking with my friends, family, teammates and our coaching staff, I’ve decided to finally bring my soccer career to an end," Wambach said in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. "While we still have more work to do for women’s soccer, after bringing the World Cup back to the United States this summer, I’m feeling extremely optimistic about the future of our sport. It’s been an amazing, wonderful ride and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of my life brings."

Wambach, a native of Rochester, New York, was a commanding physical presence on the field, fearless in the air and ruthless in front of the goal. She led the United States in scoring in every world championship tournament she played until last summer’s World Cup in Canada, when, shifted at times into a substitute’s role, she still helped deliver the Americans’ first victory in the tournament since 1999.

In addition to her World Cup titles, Wambach won two Olympic gold medals, in 2004 and 2012 — and only missed out on a third when a broken leg kept her out of the 2008 games in Beijing.

"What she has done for women’s soccer and women’s sports overall with her amazing talents on the field and her personality off it has been inspiring to watch," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "I am just extremely happy that she could end her career with that elusive World Cup title and go out on top."

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