Kristine Lilly Says Goodbye01:47

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Kristine Lilly at the 2007 Women's World Cup.  (AP)

This week Kristine Lilly, who made her first appearance on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team at the age of 16 in 1987, announced her retirement.

Though she was among the women training for this year’s World Cup in Germany, Lilly said this week that though the reasoning was hard to explain, she knew the time had come to step away from competitive soccer:

It’s almost like falling in love and you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody. You can’t really explain it, you just know this is the time to get married.  And it was just the time to retire.

Some of Kristine Lilly’s achievements as a soccer player seem incomprehensible. The most durable, determined, and productive male and female players can aspire to perhaps one hundred appearances with their national teams. Kristine Lilly has played in three hundred fifty two games for the U.S. She is the youngest player to have scored a goal for that team. She is also the oldest. She has played in five FIFA World Cups and three Olympics. She’s helped her teams win four of those tournaments, finish second twice, and third three times. She earned all-star and/or all-league mention during each of her five years with the Boston Breakers in the WUSA and then the WPS.

Beyond all that, Kristine Lilly has represented her sport with energy, grace, and unfailing good humor.

In retirement, she will be raising daughter Sidney, now 2, running soccer camps with former teammates Mia Hamm and Trish Venturini, and perhaps writing a book, but maybe there will also time for that group retirement party that has been on hold while Kristine Lilly continued to play.

This segment aired on January 8, 2011.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.