photo by Phil Stephens
Michelle Akers, Olympic Gold Medallist and the most decorated female
player in the world, will give us the "inside scoop" from the locker rooms
of international soccer, as she embarks on her quest for the 1999 Women's
World Cup. Fans, parents, coaches, and players of all ages will benefit
from her vast experience as she gives tips, and shares her insights into
sports medicine from the trenches. We are pleased to participate in
Michelle's ongoing efforts to raise the visibility of soccer in the U.S.
If you have any questions for Michelle or any suggestions for the column
please submit them to http://www.aboutsoccer.com/michelle_feedback.htm .
Scoring her 100th international goal recently, she is only the 4th player
male or female, to achieve this feat. Michelle's tally is three times that
of the U.S. men's leading scorer, Eric Wynalda, and 23 more than the
Brazil's retired legend, Pele.
Michelle, and forward Mia Hamm are currently chasing the world scoring
record of 107 held by long-retired Elisabetta Vignotto of Italy, while
another Italian legend, Carolina Morace,
is second with 105 goals. Mia currently is tied in second place on the
all-time scoring list with 105 career international goals, with Michelle
close on her heels at 102. Although Mia is currently in the lead, Michelle
has a much better goals-per-game ratio than Hamm!
Born in Santa Clara, California Michelle grew up in Seattle where she was
voted three-time High School
All-American, a four-time College All-American. In 1985 she was named the
"ESPN Athlete of the Year".
Now in her 14th year with the U.S. National Team, Michelle joined the team
as an original member in 1985 for the program's first-ever international
trip. Six years later, the U.S. team won the first-ever Women's World
championship in China. In the 1991 tournament Michelle scored 10 in six
games, including 5 in one game against Taiwan, to become the World Cup
leading scorer and won the "FIFA World Cup Golden Boot" award. The press
dubbed Michelle the "Best Women's Player in the World." Suddenly, she was
in demand to give clinics, speak at dinner engagements, and travel all over
the world AS A SPOKESPERSON FOR WOMEN'S SOCCER. She was at the top of her
career enjoying the fruits of hard
work and gladly took the responsibility of promoting women's soccer. That
year she became the first woman in the U.S. to receive a soccer endorsement.
Soon she started feeling rundown, tired all the time, but she attributed
it to all the travel, appearances and a crazy schedule. In 1993, Michelle
collapsed during a match in San Antonio, Texas, and AT FIRST was told she had
Mononucleosis, then later, Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus.
Even with rest she never got better. Almost a year later, she still
couldn't manage to get out of bed and brush her teeth, let alone run and
play soccer, she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction
Syndrome (CFIDS). It was during these tough times, Michelle
began to look to God as her strength and saw her faith as the most
important thing in her life.
Leading up to the 1995 World Cup in Sweden, she fought through CFIDS to be
the best she could. Then, in the team's first game of the tournament, she
unconscious after bashing heads with a Chinese player going for a header.
The game was not even six minutes old. Michelle was out cold and injured
her knee when she hit the ground.
She watched from the bench as the team advanced to the semifinals. It was
decided that she was well enough to play in the semis against Norway.
Looking back, it was probably not the best decision.
The team lost to Norway, 1-0, Michelle couldn't do what she dreamed of
doing, what she did in 1991 when she scored the game-winner as the clock
ticked down. In the
1996 Olympics over 76,000 people showed up for the U.S. gold medal win
Starting June 19 through July 10, Michelle again, will be anchoring our
National Team in her third World Cup. The U.S. will be competing with 15
other nations in an attempt
to the win 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Championship. An anticipated one
billion people worldwide will watch the event, in what will be largest
ever women's sporting event in history.
In the meantime, the U.S. team is playing a series of exhibition games in
the "Nike Road to Pasadena" taking them to nine cities before beginning
Women's World Cup play. They will play Japan in Atlanta, Ga. at Dekalb
Memorial Stadium on May 2 (Kickoff at 2 p.m. ET LIVE on espn2), and Canada
at Civic Stadium on Sunday, June 6, in Portland, Ore.
The USA-Canada "Send-Off" match will be the final game of the NIKE Road and
the last match before the Americans begin Women's World Cup play on June 19
against Denmark at Giants Stadium in New Jersey (Kickoff 3 p.m. LIVE on ABC).
For ticket information, call toll-free (800) WWC-TIKS (800-992-8457) or
log-on to the Official Women's World Cup Web Site - wwc99.com.
Who shares your birthday? In May the following U.S. Team players celebrate
birthdays: midfielder Tiffany Roberts (5th) forward Cindy Parlow (8th) and
defender Carla Overbeck (9th).
Don't forget, if you have any questions for Michelle or any suggestions for
the column please submit them to
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT MICHELLE? CHECK OUT WWW.MICHELLEAKERS.COM