US soccer star Megan Rapinoe was injured just minutes into the National Women’s Soccer League final on Saturday, ending her illustrious career.

The non-contact injury in the third minute forced the 38-year-old to be substituted. Rapinoe limped off the field with the help of training staff and watched the rest of the game, in which her OL Reign lost 2-1 to Gotham FC, from the sidelines.

Rapinoe told CBS Sports Golazo Network, the streaming service focused on soccer coverage, that she was “pretty sure” she tore her Achilles tendon on the field.

“That’s a difficult question,” Rapinoe said. “Definitely not what I imagined last time… I’m so proud of the group, of course. They gave it their all. Gotham so deserves it. They had a great year.”

Rapinoe, now 38, had previously announced she would retire from football after Saturday’s championship. However, she had to be substituted from the game just a few minutes into the first half after she sustained an injury that did not affect her and therefore had to go to the pitch and require medical attention.

NWSL Championship Soccer
Megan Rapinoe remains down after suffering an injury as teammates Rose Lavelle and Jess Fishlock check on her during the first half of the NWSL Championship soccer match.

Gregory Bull/AP

Rapinoe eventually got up and left the field alone, although she was limping and appeared to have injured her ankle. She returned to the sideline with a boot as one of Rapinoe’s teammates, Bethany Balcer, took her place in the game.

The OL Reign ultimately lost the championship game 2-1 to Gotham FC. The championship also marked the last game before Ali Krieger’s retirement. The winning team was represented alongside Rapinoe on the US women’s national professional soccer team.

Rapinoe expressed her gratitude while reflecting on her career.

“Thank you to everyone who was on the journey the whole time,” Rapinoe said through tears. “It was great. Besides, maybe I couldn’t have written it any other way.”

“Just super proud of my entire career and really grateful for everything it gave me and how long I got to play. Even though it was a hard evening, it was still amazing and so grateful to be here,” she continued. “Once again so proud of our group and congratulations to Gotham.”

APTOPIX NWSL Championship Soccer
Megan Rapinoe hugs Ali Krieger as Rapinoe leaves the field after suffering an injury during the NWSL championship soccer game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in San Diego.

Gregory Bull/AP

Rapinoe has become one of the most recognizable names in professional sports, both in the United States and internationally, due to her successful and long career in women’s soccer and her dedication off the field. She won gold with the national team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and is a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winner. Rapinoe was also co-captain of the women’s national team from 2018 to 2020 alongside fellow footballers Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, and was awarded the Ballon d’Or Féminin and Best FIFA Player in 2019.

In 2020, Rapinoe was on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People and in 2022 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Biden.

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