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Mia Hamm - from FIFA.com
After being crowned “FIFA World Footballer of the Year” in 2001 and 2002, Mariel Margaret Hamm, known as “Mia”, is once again in the elite group of three players who stand a chance of the taking the illustrious title for 2003.
That despite a year of mixed fortunes for the 31-year old in which she was denied crowning glory in her FIFA Women’s World Cup swansong. Hamm had dreamed of bowing out in the USA in her fourth and final tournament by lifting the title in front of her home crowd. A fiercely competitive opening match saw her lead the USA to 3-1 triumph over Sweden, and that game was followed by victory over Nigeria, Hamm scoring two early goals to secure an effortless victory. USA completed their group games with a routine win against North Korea and appeared well set for another world crown.
Their quarter-final victory over Norway was lacklustre, but no real cause for concern for Hamm & Co. Then, in the semi-finals, came the unexpected. Despite creating a number of good chances and dominating the first half, the Americans, inspired by Hamm, just could not put the ball past the outstanding German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg. At the final whistle, the devastated American team trudged from the pitch after a 0-3 defeat, their FIFA Women’s World Cup dreams over. The subsequent 3-1 victory over Canada secured third place in the tournament for the Americans, but it was scant consolation for the disappointed team. Since then, the smiles have returned as Mia Hamm and her cohorts celebrated her first game after the FIFA Women’s World Cup with a 3-1 victory against Mexico. Hamm claimed two assists from corners, both of them headed home by Abby Wambach, and was voted player of the match.
The year had started so brightly: the USA lifted the Algarve Cup courtesy of a 2-0 victory over China. Hamm, who was plagued by a serious knee injury last year, was a constant threat, scoring one goal and laying on the other.
She also enjoyed a fantastic season in the WUSA, America’s professional league. Her club Washington Freedom defeated Atlanta Beat 2-1 in the Final to land the title, despite only having finished fourth in the table.
Hamm, born in Selma, Alabama in 1972 owes her love of football to her older siblings and father. She made her international debut at the tender age of 15 and has since made 245 appearances for her country, scoring an incredible 144 goals. She won Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996, and took silver in Sydney in 2000. She was part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup winning teams of 1991 and 1999, and gave an unforgettable performance as goalkeeper against Denmark in 1995 after Briana Scurry was dismissed. USA went on to finish third in that tournament.
Hamm is the icon of women’s football and in the USA enjoys the same celebrity status and popularity as pop stars. The blonde idol has even written an autobiography entitled “Go for Gold”. Her work away from football is equally laudable. She has set up the Mia Hamm Foundation, an organisation which battles bone marrow disease.
Hamm has caused recent headlines with her private life, after finding happiness with baseball star Nomar Garciaparra of the Boston Red Sox. Despite her astronomical success she has retained her humility, not least due to the influence of her former coach and mentor Anson Dorrance who discovered her. “I just play football and enjoy being successful,” says Hamm on her formula for happiness.