Abby Wambach’s life after football is threatening to trump any achievements on the pitch. Of course, someone who scored a record-breaking 184 goals in a career which also saw a World Cup triumph and two Olympic golds earned, will never be forgotten.
Yet, the break-neck speed at which she became the heroine is being replicated during the most rapid fall from grace.
Hanging up your boots should be all about kicking back and enjoying the finer things in life. Wambach, however, has taken a different route.
If admitting a battle with alcohol and drugs wasn’t enough, the 36 year-old followed up being arrested for drink driving by strolling, once again, down the weirdest of warpaths.
“Do I agree with everything Jurgen (Klinsmann) has done? No, I do not. It’s just my opinion, and I’m entitled to that,” she told The New York Times when asked about the state of the men’s national team.
“It feels a little bit odd to me that you have some guys that have never lived in the United States that play for the United States because they were able to secure a passport.
“To me, that just feels like they weren’t able to make it for their country and earn a living, so they’re coming here.
“But do they have that killer instinct? I don’t know. I’d love to sit down with Mix Diskerud and some of these other guys and talk to them about it. I’d love to understand how much they love their country.
Abby Wambach says she'd love to sit down with me.— Mix Diskerud (@MixDiskerud) October 12, 2016
I'll take one for the team.
“I believe they can have love for both countries, but I’d love to hear it, and I think so many other people would, too. If this is an ignorant opinion, I’ll raise my hand in the end and say, ‘My bad’. But I’d want to have that conversation.“
Indeed. It is an ignorant opinion. Wave that arm like a flag. Wambach has grumbled about dual-nationality in the past. It clearly rankles for such an arrogant, all-American hero. But hey, at least Donald Trump would be on her side.
Perhaps Wambach should call up Kevin Pietersen or Jonathan Trott and talk to them about the love of playing for a country they weren’t born in. Don’t forget to give Patrick Vieira a shout. Ask him if being raised in Senegal soured winning the World Cup for France in 1998.
Those closer to home will be queuing up, too. A conversation with Jermaine Jones and John Brooks, whose fathers were in the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany, would be lively.
Diskerud and his American mother who lived in Norway would also like a word. The list is as long as Wambach’s views are myopic and outdated.
A chasm between the men and women’s national team players in the US also plays its part – the row over equal pay has clearly fogged views. Nevertheless, even some of the most sycophantic media outlets here have laid into the striker this week.
Taking advantage of dual citizenship is nothing new: tennis, cricket, athletics, rugby union. I could go on. The world is a much smaller place these days. Loopholes are examined and opportunities are seized.
Klinsmann has been criticised in the past for bringing in players who have represented other nations in their teens. Yet, the brutal truth, as the German would happily testify, is that MLS simply doesn’t produce the quality of player required to progress on the international stage. He had to look further afield.
I’m not saying this level of introspection shouldn’t be encouraged. Wambach’s battle with the bottle is not to be taken lightly. The disintegration of her marriage and personal life, while maintaining the smiley facade of an international sports star, is sad. Her views, however, are a joke.
But, here’s the punchline. She has a book out and is attempting to build a career as a pugnacious TV pundit for ESPN. Fancy that.
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