Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Abby Wambach, whose clutch goals got the U.S. into the final of last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, was voted 2011 Female Athlete of the Year by selected members of The Associated Press.  Wambach received 65 of 214 votes cast; teammate Hope Solo was second with 38, while Connecticut basketball player Maya Moore was third with 35.  The AP’s male winner was Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers.

Wambach’s finest moment came during the semifinals, when her dramatic headed goal late in overtime helped lift the U.S. to victory over longtime rival Brazil.  She is one of three finalists for the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year trophy, which will be presented January 9 at the FIFA Awards Gala in Zurich.  [December 20]

Comment:  Another step forward, domestically.

Wambach, at nearly six feet tall an imposing striker,  is the first soccer player of either gender to be singled out in the 80-year history of the AP award (the 1999 U.S. national team won the honor for capturing that year’s Women’s World Cup).   Too bad the AP was too focused on golf and tennis all the way into the new millenium and missed the exploits of Michelle Akers, the heroine of the USA’s 1991 world championship, and Mia Hamm, who probably had peaked when she was voted the 2001 and 2002 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, the first two years of that honor’s history.

Someday, a soccer player will win the AP Male Athlete of the Year award.  The honor isn’t exclusive to Americans, so that means that over eight decades Pele, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo were never recognized, while Wayne Gretzky, Ben Johnson, Ingemar Johansson and immortals like Gunder Haag and Herb Elliott were.

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