Retiring U.S. soccer legend Abby Wambach wants to be forgotten.
A new ad from Gatorade features the 35-year-old clearing out her locker and delivering a pointed farewell message about relinquishing the spotlight to the next generation of stars.
Wambach played her last game Wednesday night, captaining the U.S. Women's National Team in an exhibition match against China at the Superdome in New Orleans. The U.S. lost 1-0, breaking its home winning streak of 104 matches, but Wambach still left the field to a standing ovation.
Her résumé includes the world record for international goals scored by any man or woman, with 184 over the course of her career.
Sure, Gatorade's approach to saying goodbye is a touch melodramatic. (The spot was made by TBWA\Chiat\Day.) But at its core, it's a simple and resonant message, fitting to the occasion and in line with the brand's "Win from Within" campaign, which also featured this fall's look back at a clairvoyant young Serena Williams.
It's also a timely reminder going into the new year. 2015 has been particularly good for the profile of the U.S. Women's National Team in the wake of its World Cup win. But women's soccer has historically been a woefully underfunded sport—the U.S. pro women's league delivers salaries in the $7,000 to $38,000 range, a fraction of what men collect for the same game (drawing a comparison to women's tennis in the 1970s).
So, anything that helps keep people focused on the game—and its potential for players, fans and sponsors—is a good thing as the calendar careens toward 2016.
For more details about Wambach's significant personal contributions to soccer, check out Nike's tribute video, featuring heartfelt interviews with teammates reflecting on her mentorship. Though for viewers prone to strong emotion, it's best to have tissues handy.