Christie Rampone, Team USA’s record-breaking soccer captain
Captain of the USA women’s football team since 2008, Christie Rampone has participated in the Olympic Games on four occasions, winning an unprecedented four medals, including three golds.
“Soccer chose me”
Christie Rampone, née Pearce, excelled at several sports at Point Pleasant Boro High School in New Jersey (USA), including football, hockey, athletics and basketball. As a student at Monmouth University, she initially split her time between basketball, where she showed great promise as a point guard, and football. Her future path was set when she was invited to train with the US women’s national team.
“It was soccer that chose me, really,” she said. “I was in my senior year at Monmouth; it was a difficult decision. My priority was basketball, and I knew I would miss games by taking part in my first training camp with the national soccer team. But when I did it, it really opened my eyes, and I told myself that if I was called up again and given another chance, I’d concentrate fully on soccer.”
Following a brief experiment up front, the Fort Lauderdale-born footballer slotted into central defence, and made her first international appearance for the USA versus Australia in February 1997, aged just 21. In May of that year, she scored her first goal for her country, against the Republic of Korea. In 1999, her meteoric rise saw her compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil, where the Stars and Stripes defeated China 5-4 on penalties in the final in front of a record 90,000-strong crowd at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The following year, the tough-tackling defender made her Olympic Games debut in Sydney. On 28 September 2000, the Americans earned a silver medal after losing 3-2, after extra time in the final against Norway.
In November 2001, Pierce married Chris Rampone, with whom she would have two daughters, born in 2005 and 2010. Shortly after their wedding, she suffered an injury to her knee and was sidelined for several months. Her long wait for an Olympic gold finally ended at the 2004 Games in Athens, as the Americans saw off Japan and Germany in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, before beating Brazil 2-1, after extra time, in the final. Following the birth of her first child, Rampone was appointed team captain ahead of the 2008 Games in Beijing. Surpassing the 200-cap mark during the tournament, she won her second Olympic title, propelling her team-mates to a 1-0 victory over Brazil – again after extra time – on 21 August 2008 in front of 51,600 fans in Beijing’s Workers Stadium.
Three-time gold medallist
Despite losing on penalties to Japan in the final of the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, Team USA bounced back at London 2012 on 9 August at Wembley Stadium, in an Olympic final attended by a record crowd of 80,000. Two goals from Carli Lloyd proved sufficient to gain revenge on the Japanese and provide a 37-year-old Rampone, who marshalled her defence admirably during the competition, with a third Olympic crown, sealing her place in history as the only female footballer to win four Olympic medals. Refusing to consider the idea of retirement, the Sky Blue FC centre-back earned her 300th cap in October 2014 and is currently the most-capped active player (in men’s or women’s football) in the world