FIFA names Akers ‘Player of the Century.’
ROME (Wednesday, December 13, 2000) -- Former United States women’s national team star Michelle Akers was awarded perhaps the most prestigious honor of her legendary career Monday night when she was named the "Women’s Player of the Century" by world governing body FIFA.
The incomparable Brazilian Pele and Argentinean hero Diego Maradona were named "Men’s Co-Players of the Century."
The first women’s soccer player to gain global fame and sign a shoe endorsement contract, Akers was an athlete ahead of her time when she dominated the 1991 Women’s World Cup, scoring 10 goals, including two in the championship game 2-1 victory over host China.
Akers’ retired from international soccer just prior to the 2000 Olympics after an 15-year international career. She played in the first-ever U.S. national-team match on August 18, 1985, against Italy, and finished with 105 goals in 153 games.
During her time with the national team, women’s soccer grew from its humble beginnings into one of the most popular sports for girls and women in the U.S. With her works on and off the field, she helped pull women’s soccer into the mainstream and became a role model for hundreds of thousands of young girls across the country. Her warm personality, unique sense of humor and ability to talk to people endeared her to fans everywhere.
Akers was named Player of the Century in joint voting by readers of FIFA Magazine and the members of the FIFA Football Committee. China’s Sun Wen was honored with the FIFA Internet Award based on the votes cast by the fans through the governing body’s web site.
Akers played in three world championships and two Summer Olympics with the U.S., which captured Women’s World Cup and one Olympic gold medal.
In 1998, just prior to the World Cup in France, she received FIFA's highest honor, the Order of Merit.
U.S. forward Mia Hamm, the world’s all-time leading scorer with 127 goals, finished second behind Sun Wen in the Internet Award balloting, and third behind both Akers and Sun in the Player of the Century voting.