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Megan Rapinoe’s retirement: How old is she? How many seasons has she played as a pro?

Known as much for her off-field activism as her skills and contribution to the USWNT, Rapinoe has finally called it a day.

Known as much for her off-field activism as her skills and contribution to the USWNT, Rapinoe has finally called it a day.

In the world of women’s soccer, few names resonate as powerfully as Megan Rapinoe. The American superstar’s rise to prominence has been marked by extraordinary talent and fierce determination, but also a commitment to breaking down barriers both on and off the field.

As the United States prepared for the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup, hopes were raised for Rapinoe, and others, to go out on a high, and the Californian’s exploits in previous tournaments served as an inspiration to players and fans worldwide. They will continue to do so after her final game against South Africa.

Rapinoe: a leader for the USWNT

The now-38-year old’s first major breakthrough on the international stage came during the 2011 World Cup held in Germany. Her electrifying performances not only helped propel the US team to the final but also announced her arrival as a force in the game, scoring in the win over Colombia. In that tournament she was mainly used as a super sub as the team narrowly lost out on the title in a final penalty shootout against Japan. A gold medal at the Olympics a year later would follow.

In 2015 the world title would be claimed, and everything got going quickly as she contributed a brace in the opening 3-1 victory against Australia. Despite not adding to her tally, she was an integral cog in the well-oiled stars and stripes machine and an emphatic 5-2 revenge win against Japan in the final secured glory. She was even one of the candidates for the Golden Ball, ultimately won by teammate Carli Lloyd, who did notch a hat-trick in the final.

It was during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France that Rapinoe truly etched her name into soccer’s history books. The women’s game was getting much more attention and she was getting used to making headlines, on the pitch with her performances, and off it with her outspoken advocacy for social justice. Her unapologetic activism made her a symbol of empowerment for women and an ally in the fight for equality.

Scoring goals throughout, the USWNT progressed to the final - Rapinoe missing the semi-final win over England due to injury - and her efforts earned her the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer (six goals plus three assists) and the Golden Ball as the best player.

Megan Rapinoe USWNT
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Megan Rapinoe USWNT

Graphic provided by our friends at Sofascore.

When Rapinoe turn pro

Stepping back a few years, and before the global impact she had, Rapinoe made the switch from the University of Portland Pilots to the professional women’s game. She joined the Chicago Red Stars in 2009, playing 17 of 18 games and scoring two goals and providing three assists, earning her a place in the league’s All-Star Team. Another goal came the following year.

Philadelphia Independence took Rapinoe on, when the Red Stars closed down, before a move to MagicJack, helping them reach the playoffs. However, the league terminated the MagicJack franchise in 2011, making Rapinoe a free agent.

From there, short spells with Sydney FC and Seattle Sounders came, before she shone at Olympique Lyonnais in France, scoring eight goals in 28 appearances. A mightily impressive 47 in 102 followed at Seattle Reign, where she also says her goodbyes from the game this year.

A professional spanning 14 years, filled with so much more than just kicking a ball.

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Key World Cup moments from Rapinoe

Rapinoe’s World Cup journey in 2019 was filled with memorable moments. Her sensational brace against France in the quarterfinals showcased her clutch factor and her ability to rise to the occasion on the grandest stage. The iconic image of her with arms outstretched after scoring, celebrating with her signature “take a knee” stance, became an enduring symbol of triumph and defiance.

Yet, it was not just her actions on the field that defined her impact during that tournament. Rapinoe used her platform to advocate for marginalised communities and equal pay for women athletes. Her unyielding commitment to activism prompted her to engage in a public feud with former U.S. President Donald Trump, who criticized her for refusing to visit the White House.

Her influence went beyond the soccer world, inspiring millions around the globe to stand up against injustice and to fight for a more inclusive and equitable society. Rapinoe’s boldness, both as an athlete and an activist, exemplified the power of using one’s platform to drive positive change.

While the star announced ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup that it is going to be her soccer swan song, there’s no doubt that Megan Rapinoe’s impact will continue to reverberate long after her boots are hung up.