GAINESVILLE, Fla. - She leads active U.S. National Team players with 152 goals. Included in her 27 goals scored in 2012 were five which helped the U.S. to Olympic gold. And now Gator Soccer Great Abby Wambach has another accolade. The FIFA Women's World Player of the Year or FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012.
Wambach received the honor today at the Zurich Kongresshaus. The male honor went for the fourth consecutive year to Lionel Messi. The other two finalists for the women's FIFA Ballon d'Or were U.S. teammate Alex Morgan and Brazil's Marta.
This was Wambach's second consecutive appearance in the final three for the FIFA Ballon d'Or. Her five goals led the U.S. in 2012 Olympic play, scoring in each of the U.S.'s first five matches. Her 27 goals this year is the second highest total of her 12-year international career. The 31 goals she scored in 2004 stands as the second-highest ever for a U.S. player.
Her international career total of 152 goals is just four behind tying U.S. great Mia Hamm for the world's all-time greatest goal scorer.
"I really didn't expect this. Thanks to FIFA and President Blatter for having us. Pia, coaching staff and the medical staff as well, thank you," Wambach said at Monday's gala.
"Most importantly, winning any individual award is a total product of the team that you play for. I've never scored a goal without receiving a pass from my teammates," continued Wambach. "Thanks to all the fans out there who continue to inspire me and the rest of the team to win as many games as we can."
The FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award began in 2001 and Hamm claimed the first two honors. Marta picked up the honor five of the last six years, with the 2011 award going to Japan's Homare Sawa.
U.S. Women's National Team head coach Pia Sundhage claimed the FIFA Women's Coach of the Year honor. The finalists in each category was derived through voting by the captains and head coaches for almost all the women's national teams throughout the world along with votes from international media representatives.
Wambach is the Gators' career leader in goals (96), assists (50) and points (242) and stands seventh on the NCAA Career charts in goals and points. She earned National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA) All-America first-team honors in 1999 and 2001. She is a four-time member of the All-Southeastern Conference first team and picked up the SEC Player of the Year award in 2000 and 2001. Wambach was inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame in April of 2012.