Six months of Abby Wambach in her own words

From suing FIFA, to skipping the National Women’s Soccer League season, to alluding to teammates as scared and questioning a referee’s intentions during the World Cup, Abby Wambach’s been a magnet of controversy over the last six months. Here’s international soccer’s all-time leading scorer in her own words.

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“Our legal action has ended. But I am hopeful that the players’ willingness to contest the unequal playing fields — and the tremendous public support we received during the effort — marks the start of even greater activism to ensure fair treatment when it comes to women’s sports.”

— Jan. 21, announcing the end of a legal pursuit to force FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association to use grass at the 2015 World Cup’s six venues.

“2014 was physically a tough year because I injured my knee, and you know how that goes with your emotions and the mentality. You ask yourself: will I ever be back playing as well as I used to? Right now I feel 100 percent fit, healthy, and excited.”

— Mar. 17, to FIFA.com.

There will be games where maybe one or two of us are sitting on the bench. Tactically it’s going to be important for Jill [Ellis] and her coaching staff to do that to save legs. Hopefully we can do that so that once we get to the crucial matches we have players with fresh legs who can go on and not only win games by one or two goals, but decisively.”

— Mar. 17, to FIFA.com, about how to manage the time of the United States national team’s forwards during the World Cup.

“I am so proud of our league and truly appreciate the support of the Sahlens and the fans of Western New York. … At this stage of my career, I know what I need to prepare mentally and physically for this summer.”

— Mar. 18, on her decision not to play in the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League season.

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“I think that in order to win a World Cup we all have to give up a little bit of our own selves to be able to do that — and I think checking your ego at the door is probably one of the biggest and important keys to winning a world championship.”

— Apr. 14, to the Associated Press.

“I feel like I haven’t been my very best playing self over the past year and a half, for different reasons. I think as you grow older you have figure out the best way to utilize not only your body but your skill. … But I do know that come June I’ll be my fittest and hopefully be playing my very best soccer.

— Apr. 14, to the Associated Press.

“There were companies (that) offered to pay for these grass fields to be put into these stadiums… They offered FIFA, offered the Canadian Soccer Association to do it for free (in) all the stadiums … To me, it wasn’t about that there was grass or no grass, it was about FIFA not wanting to do anything that anybody else wanted except them wanting to do what they wanted to do.”

— May 6, to ESPNW. It was later revealed that Wambach and other members of the U.S. national team had a partnership with Scotts Lawn Care, with the company revealing their plans to leverage the World Cup artificial turf controversy predated the resolution of the players’ attempt to force the tournament to be played on grass.

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“I like to call it my vice weight, my red wine weight. … I’m obsessive. I can eat really unhealthy for a bit, then eat really well to combat it. That’s who I am. Now, I’m in the really healthy phase.”

— May 24, on periods where she has drifted away from top physical condition, as published in the New York Times.

“I think I take on a little more responsibility when push comes to shove. … I’m not scared to fail. I’m not afraid to put people on my back and carry this team.”

— May 24, as published in the New York Times.

“Why do you think I’ve made the career that I have in the World Cup and the Olympics? …. Why do you think I score?

“Because people are a little bit scared. … They’re like: ‘I’m going to pump that ball up to Wambach, see what happens. I don’t want to play this little five-yard ball, because if I pass it and it gets picked off and we get scored on, then it’s my fault.’ The nerves and stress make people play a little more direct, make them play a little ‘Let’s just pump the ball in there; this is a safer play.’ And I just make stuff happen.”

— May 24, as published in the New York Times.

WINNIPEG, MB - JUNE 12:  Abby Wambach #20 of the United States prepares to enter the game as head coach Pia Sundhage of Sweden looks on from the sideline in the second half against Sweden in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 match at Winnipeg Stadium on June 12, 2015 in Winnipeg, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Getty Images

“The two headers that I had that I missed in the first game I think I score if we’re on grass …

“My focus was on getting my head on the end of a cross. … I did. Goalkeeper made a great save. If it’s on grass, I think it goes in.”

June 13, describing chances she had in the United States’ opining game of the 2015 World Cup against Australia.

“Because I’m way more carefree (on grass). … I throw my body. I’m not worried about anything. There’s no second-guessing. The ball as it comes off my head against Sweden, it’s a dry turf and bounces higher. If it hits the grass, it’s harder for a goalkeeper to react. So if the ball bounces higher, the goalkeeper has more time to react off the turf.

“… for me, I definitely think that the United States has more goals if we’re playing on grass.”

June 13

“There’s a lot of factors that go into it that the average person watching the game may not realize that it does make a huge difference in how the game is played.”

June 13

“It’s important that people understand that scoring goals is not that easy, right … If you’re given a chance you have to take advantage of it. But that being said, the turf does make the ball bounce differently. Makes you think differently about the game and that’s just the reality.”

June 21, further clarifying previous comments about the 2015 World Cup turf surfaces diminishing scoring.

EDMONTON, AB - JUNE 22:  Abby Wambach #20 of the United States looks on in the first half while taking on Colombia in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Round of 16 match at Commonwealth Stadium on June 22, 2015 in Edmonton, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Getty Images

“The fact that I’ve taken a lot with my right foot.”

— June 22, on why she elected to take an early second half penalty kick against Colombia with her left foot. Wambach is naturally right footed. The United States would defeat Colombia, 2-0. The score was 0-0 at the time.

“It seemed like she was purposefully giving those yellows to the players she knew were sitting on yellows … I don’t know if it was just a psychological thing. Who knows?

— June 22, after teammates Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday were shown yellow cards in the United States’ win over Colombia. The yellow cards earned were each players’ second of the tournament, leaving them suspended for the teams’ quarterfinal meeting with China on June 25.

“I’m not in the referee’s head, and that’s something I definitely take ownership of and apologize for, because I don’t know what the referee is thinking. … In no way did I intend to offend her – and my biggest apologies if it was offensive in any way.”

— June 23, to FOX.

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