Everyone is currently swooning over Megan Rapinoe and her World Cup and Golden Boot and purple hair and sunglasses and ‘not fucking going to the White House’ quote. But let’s not forget her recently-retired, and wildly eloquent, predecessor on the US National Women’s Soccer team, the mighty Abby Wambach. She is famous for kissing her wife immediately after winning the last World Cup in 2015, at a time when same sex marriage had been legal across the US for less than two weeks.
Forward is her autobiography and is definitely a romance, though it’s a bit muddy whether it’s a love story between Abby and soccer, Abby and her wife, Abby and alcohol and painkillers or … all three? This last ‘romance’ seems to be both a recipe for disaster and her road to glory, rather confusingly.
This is a direct, and remarkably self-aware, romp through Wambach’s life as the star of the biggest women’s soccer matches played on the biggest stages: the World Cup and the Olympics. Even if you don’t care much about sport, or football in particular, I dare you not to enjoy her passion for clattering about with a gang of sweaty, gorgeous-legged women, training hard, playing hard and, inevitably, partying hard. And how can you not love the fact that the greatest goal-scorer in history, man or woman, is a tall, butch lesbian from upstate New York?
Wambach is also brutally honest about spiralling into painkiller and alcohol addiction as her injuries build up and she tries to push her emotions down. She does anything it takes to score goals, get the glory and be the centre of attention. She is equally honest about the emotional pain she causes and the long, slow steps she eventually takes to sorting herself out. Her buddies try to help her, but it takes more than that to get her to realise the state she’s in…
Since her retirement, she has become a women’s equality public speaker, and is as in-your-face ferocious off the field as she was on. Retirement has matured her, and whatever she does is bound to be inspiring. She recently wrote a non-fiction short book called Wolfpack, based on a graduation speech she gave. I also recommend that, if only for this one sentence: “I was never Little Red Riding Hood, I was always the wolf”. Swoon.