Mariel Margaret Hamm is recognized as the best female football player in history. She has played for the US women’s football team for the past 17 years and has the biggest fan base of any American athlete.

Mia Hamm won the women’s soccer World Cup in 1991, 1999 and the Olympic gold medal in 1996 and 2004. She was voted FIFA’s “Player of the Year” for two consecutive years. 2001 and 2002. Mia Hamm held the record for most international goals until June 2013, after which her record was broken by teammate Abby Wambach.

The daughter of an air force pilot, Hamm frequently had to relocate with her family and her brother was said to encourage her to pursue a career in sports. At the age of 15, Hamm was the youngest female player to play for the national team. She attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where she helped the school’s women’s soccer team win four consecutive NCAA championships.

International achievement

In 1991, at the age of 19, Hamm was the youngest female player in history to win the World Cup. Five years later, Hamm and his teammates including Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain and Kristine Lilly won the 1996 Summer Olympics gold medal in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1999, Hamm set a new scoring record when he scored the 108th goal for the US team. She held this record until June 2013 and was broken by another American player, Abby Wambach.

Hamm’s other individual awards include the “Best Female Athlete of the Year” in American football for five consecutive years (1994-1998), MVP of the Women’s Cup (1995) and won three ESPY Awards. In 2004, Hamm and her teammate Michelle Akers were honored in the list of 125 greatest players alive. At the time, they were the only female athletes and the only American elected to this list.

Life outside the pitch

In 1994, Hamm married her college sweetheart Christiaan Corry. In 2001, the couple divorced and Hamm got married to baseball player Nomar Garciaparra in 2003. After helping the US team win the 2004 Summer Olympics gold medal, Hamm decided to retire.

In 1999, Mia founded the Mia Hamm Foundation to support bone marrow research after her brother died of a rare blood disease.