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Christie Rampone Honored Pregame at #SHEBELIEVES Game

Christie Rampone Honored Pregame at #SHEBELIEVES Game

USA’s Long-Time Captain and Second-Most Capped Player in the World Will Be Recognized Before SheBelieves Cup Match at Red Bull Arena

Rampone and her her two daughters Rylie & Reece.

Christie Rampone, the second-most capped player in the history of international women’s soccer, was honored by U.S. Soccer for her legendary career before the USA vs. England in the SheBelieves Cup.

The pre-game ceremony for Rampone, who hails from Point Pleasant, N.J., took place at Red Bull Arena, just 60 miles north of the small town on the Jersey Shore where she was a three-sport star in high school.

Rampone is the final member of the 20-player 1999 Women’s World Cup Team to retire from international competition (she outlasted her closest teammate by five years) but will enter pre-season with Sky Blue FC in March for her fifth NWSL season and 11th overall in the United States.

Rampone, who played the final match of her 19-year international career on September 20, 2015, against Haiti in Birmingham, Alabama, captained the USA with tremendous class and professionalism from 2008-15. In her final competitive match, she entered the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final in the 86th minute and later triumphantly lifted the World Cup Trophy with long-time teammate Abby Wambach.

“I really couldn’t have asked for more from my career with the National Team, not only on the field but also in the relationships I made and the life experiences I was fortunate enough to have,” Rampone said. “As a young girl, I never imagined the things I would get to see and the amazing people I would meet. I’m looking forward to celebrating with friends and family in my home state and seeing the team play England. There are some fantastic young players as well as many of the veterans I played with leading the team, so I know it’s in very good hands.”

Perhaps the unlikeliest of U.S. Women’s National Team stars, Rampone went to college at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, on a basketball scholarship and was the starting point guard during her senior year when then-head coach Tony DiCicco called her to the National Team in January of 1997, just months after the USA had won its first Olympic gold medal.

With nothing guaranteed, she chose to miss several basketball games for a shot at the National Team. On the soccer field, Rampone was a high-scoring forward for Monmouth, tallying 79 goals in her college career, but DiCicco was looking for athletic defenders, and she got her initial tryout in the back. After playing well in her first training camp, which took place in San Diego, she made the roster for a trip to Australia. Rampone came off the bench in her first game, playing the second half, then started her second match. Aside from injuries and the birth of her two daughters (Rylie, born in September of 2005, and Reece, born in March of 2010), she was rarely out of the starting lineup for the next 19 years, starting in 272 her 311 caps.

“Christie Rampone is a fantastic role model as a teammate, a professional and a mom,” U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said. “She was always humble and always focused on the team first. She was a great leader and competitor for this team for so many years, and her contributions to women’s soccer on many levels will always be remembered and appreciated. One of my best memories from the 2015 World Cup was seeing Christie on the field at the final whistle. It was so appropriate for her to finish as a champion because that’s what she truly is.”

Rampone’s 311 caps are second-best in U.S. Soccer and world history behind only former teammate Kristine Lilly, who retired having played 354 games. Rampone was the most capped active player in the world at both the 2011 and 2015 Women’s World Cup and is one of two players in soccer history to have played 300 or more times for her country.

Rampone scored four goals during her career, two against Iceland on April 5, 2000, which was the last time she scored for the USA. She played 24,011 minutes in a U.S. uniform, second-best in U.S. history. Rampone was the first and thus far only U.S. player to play more than 3,000 minutes in a calendar year, accomplishing the feat in 2008 when she played 3,066.

Even though she played into her 40s, Rampone was still one of the fittest and fastest players on the team during the length of her career.

She finishes as the USA’s only four-time Olympian and as a three-time Olympic gold medalist, also winning an Olympic silver medal in 2000. Rampone also finishes as a two-time Women’s World Cup champion, winning in 1999 and 2015, and is the eighth woman in U.S. history with two World Cup titles on her resume. She and Lilly are the only two U.S. players to have played in five Women’s World Cup tournaments. Rampone was a starter in seven of the nine world championships she played, serving as a reserve only in her first in 1999 and her last in 2015.

She was the captain of the team during two gold medal runs and one Women’s World Cup title. She played in 19 total Women’s World Cup matches, tied for sixth best all-time, and played in 22 Olympic matches, more than any U.S. player.

“I’ve always enjoyed intense competition, and with the U.S. team I got to pursue those goals at the highest level, which is part of what kept me going for so long,” Rampone said. “I am very thankful to all the coaches I played for, especially to Tony DiCicco for giving me that first chance, and I am especially thankful to all my teammates. They are inspiring people who helped a shy girl from the Jersey Shore grow as a person and a player and gave her enough confidence to one day be the captain of her country. They are truly my sisters. We went through so much together over the years, all the wins and some tough loses, but we always kept competing, and that’s something I’ll always cherish. To get to stand on top of the podium so many times with them was just amazing.”

Rampone, who began her professional career in 2001, has played in all three iterations of the U.S. professional leagues. She played for the New York Power in the WUSA from 2001-03, played for Sky Blue FC and magicJack in the WPS, and since 2013 has played for her home state Sky Blue FC in the NWSL.

In July of 2009, she took over as head coach of Sky Blue FC and improbably led them to the WPS championship as a player-coach, playing in the championship game despite being three months pregnant.

Rampone is the oldest women to play in a FIFA Women’s World Cup and on July 5, 2015, she became the oldest woman to play in a FIFA Women’s World Cup Final at the age of 40 years and 11 days, a record that is unlikely to be broken.

– ussoccer.com –

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Denise J. Saul is the Founder/President of WSEN-Women's Sports & Entertainment Network.

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