FRANCE — Outspoken off the pitch, but always delivering on it, this has been some World Cup tournament for U.S. star Megan Rapinoe.
Sunday’s World Cup final was no different. Rapinoe scored and then picked up both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards, but she was quick to praise her teammates after the USWNT’s 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in Lyon.
“We’re crazy, that’s what makes us special,” said Rapinoe in an post-match interview broadcast on the BBC. “We have no quit in us, we’re so tight and we’ll do anything to win.
“It’s unbelievable just to know all of the people in our group that put in so much work: the players, our friends and family are here, it’s surreal. I don’t know how to feel right now, it’s ridiculous.”
The Golden Ball award is awarded to the tournament’s best player, while Rapinoe picked up the Golden Boot award as she had a better goal to playing time average than Alex Morgan, who had also scored six goals.
It was Rapinoe’s second-half penalty that set the USWNT on the path to a 2-0 victory, with Rose Lavelle making the game safe with a fine solo goal.
“That was what she’s been missing, just that little bit,” added Rapinoe as she reflected on Lavelle’s development. “All tournament she’s been on the dribble just missing the end (product), to get that goal on the biggest stage. She’s a superstar not even in the making, she’s a star right now.”
USWNT coach Jill Ellis, who was in charge of the 2015 World Cup winning team as well, also paid tribute to her squad’s togetherness.
“This is just an amazing group of players but an even better group of people — fantastic resilience and chemistry. They put their heart and soul into this journey, I can’t thank them enough, they’ve been fantastic.
“I could barley speak, but I said they were unbelievable. Congratulations, you made history, enjoy it — just unbelievable. I have no words, sorry!”
At the end of her interview Rapinoe also sent a happy birthday message to her brother Brian, who spent eight of his 16 years in prison in solitary confinement and is now part of San Diego’s Male Community Reentry Program.