Michelle Akers is described by former USA coach Tony DiCicco as “the best woman that has ever played the game,” Michelle Akers looms large in the pantheon of women’s football. The first women's soccer player to gain global fame, she was named FIFA Player of the Century in 2000 and was widely recognised as the world’s best player during her illustrious 15-year international career.
Akers, an athlete ahead of her time, joined the national team upon its inception in 1985 and dominated the women’s game with her skill, size, strength, and savvy, scoring the first official USWNT goal, and was the first to sign a shoe-endorsement. She was the leading scorer in the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup™ with 10 goals in 6 matches, including the winner in the Final against Norway in Guangzhou, China to make the US the first ever Women's World Cup Champions. She also set a World Cup record by scoring 5 goals in a 7-0 victory over Taiwan and earned both the Silver Ball Award and the Golden Boot, as she led the Americans to their first world championship.
The powerful striker was the heart and soul for women’s soccer in America from its very beginnings. “She was a warrior,” said former team-mate and icon Mia Hamm. “She was our everything.” After the 1991 WWC, Akers went on the play in two more FIFA World Cups (95, 99) and added another historic first by earning the first-ever Olympic Gold Medal for the US in women's soccer in 1996 by defeating China 2-1 in front of a sold out stadium of 90,000 fans.
In 1998, she received the FIFA Order of Merit, which is the highest honor awarded by FIFA (the world governing body of soccer) for significant contributions to the game around the world. Michelle is the only female to receive this honor. Other honorees include Henry Kissinger, Pele, and Nelson Mandela.
In 1999, she played in her final FIFA Women's World Cup once again dominating the field of play with her signature curly mane and relentless warrior mentality helping the US win their 2nd World Cup title in a heart-stopping 2-1 victory over China in The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA. Despite playing with a dislocated shoulder and being carried off the field in the 90th minute due to a concussion, she was awarded the FIFA Bronze Ball as one of the top 3 players in the 1999 World Cup and recognized as the most dominating player on the field.
Akers retired from international soccer just prior the 2000 Olympics after an historic 15-year career due to injuries. She finished her career with 105 goals in 153 games. Over the course of her career with the USWNT, Michelle accumulated over 30 orthopedic surgeries for various injuries and is still counting! She is noted as one of the toughest and best over all player in the history of sport.
Michelle Akers US National Team
FIFA Player of The Century
2x FIFA World Cup Champion
Olympic Gold Medalist
FIFA Golden Boot Winner
Silver and Bronze Ball 2x World Cup MVP
FIFA Merit of Honor
Record Goal Scorer FIFA World Cups 10 Goals
105 goals/37 assists/247 points
Since retiring, she has remained active in the soccer and business world doing personal appearances, public speaking, color commentating and media consulting, writing, working as a corporate spokesperson and ambassador for the sport; but her biggest passion focuses on animal welfare and community outreach through her public charity, Michelle Akers Horse Rescue & Outreach, Inc. Currently, she lives on her 8-acre farm near Atlanta GA, where she provides sanctuary and healing to abused and unwanted animals and developing community outreach programs to support local animal shelters across the nation. And last, but certainly the most important, she's a Mom to Cody, her son born in 2005.