Megan Rapinoe cried as injury forced her off just three minutes into the final match of her career.
The United States legend, 38, was hoping to end on a high note with OL Reign as they faced NJ/NY Gotham in the National Women's Soccer League final on Saturday (November 11) night. But her retirement was marred by a suspected torn Achilles tendon.
She went down off the ball less than 180 seconds after kick-off and cut an emotional figure as the realisation set in that she'd kicked a ball competitively for the last time while medical staff tended to her right leg.
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Rapinoe could be seen wiping tears from her face as she was assisted around the perimeter of the pitch. In her absence Reign were beat 2-1 to add to her heartbreak.
Rose Lavelle cancelled out Lynn Williams' opener, but Esther Gonzalez Rodriguez restored Gotham's lead in stoppage-time at the end of the first half.
The scoreline remained the same after the restart, despite goalkeeper Amanda Haught seeing red late on for handling outside the box. "It was a tough one. It's definitely not how I envisioned this last one going," said a tearful Rapinoe post-match.
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"Thank you to everyone who's been on the journey for all this time. It's been amazing – maybe besides this. I couldn't have written it any different.
"I am just super proud of my whole career and really thankful for all that it's given me and for how long I've been able to play. Even though it was a tough night, it was still amazing and I'm so thankful to be here and again, so proud of our group."
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Rapinoe won two World Cups with her country in 2015 and 2019, the year she was crowned The Best FIFA Women's Player and won the Ballon d'Or, and also helped them to gold at the London 2012 Olympics.
She announced she would be retiring back in July ahead of her fourth World Cup, which also ended in disappointment Down Under as the US were knocked out by Sweden in the round of 16.
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