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Michelle Anne Akers (born February 1, 1966) is an American former soccer player, who starred in the historic 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup victories by the United States. She won the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the 1991 tournament.

Michelle Akers
Personal information
Full name Michelle Anne Akers
Date of birth (1966-02-01) February 1, 1966 (age 53)
Place of birth Santa Clara, California, U.S.
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Playing position Midfielder, Forward
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1985–1988 UCF Knights
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1990 Tyresö FF
1992 Tyresö FF
1992 Orlando Lions Women
1994 Tyresö FF
National team
1985–2000 United States 155 (107)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Akers is regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time.[1] She was named FIFA Female Player of the Century in 2002, an award she shared with China's Sun Wen.[2][3] In 2004, Akers and Mia Hamm were the only two women named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players selected by Pelé and commissioned by FIFA for that organization's 100th anniversary.

Akers is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame; she was inducted in 2004, along with Paul Caligiuri and Eric Wynalda.


Early lifeEdit

Born to Robert and Anne Akers in Santa Clara, California on February 1, 1966, Akers grew up in the Seattle, Washington suburb of Shoreline, where she attended and played soccer for Shorecrest High School.[4] She was named an All-American three times during her high school career.[4] At 5 feet10 inches in height and 150 pounds, Akers had an imposing physical presence on the soccer field and was noted for her aggressive and physical style of play.[5]

University of Central FloridaEdit

Akers attended the University of Central Florida on a scholarship where she was selected as four-time NCAA All-American.[4] She was Central Florida's Athlete of the Year in 1988–89, the all-time leading scorer in UCF history,[4] won the Hermann Trophy in 1988,[4] and had her #10 jersey retired by the school.

Playing careerEdit


Akers was a member of the 1985 United States women's national soccer team for its first game at a tournament in Italy in August 1985. Due to an ankle injury, she did not play in the first game. However, in the second ever international game for the United States she scored the first goal in the history of the program against Denmark, in a 2–2 tie.[6]

Akers scored 15 goals in 24 games for the U.S. from 1985 to 1990 before scoring a team record 39 goals in 26 games in the 1991 season. In 1990 and 1991 she was named the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Female Athlete of the Year.[4] Akers was also the lead scorer in the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup in China in 1991, scoring ten goals, including five in one game.[4] This led the U.S. women's team to the first women's world championship, defeating Norway 2–1. Akers scored both goals in the Final.

After the 91 WC, she shifted from Striker to center midfielder in part to minimize the beatings doled out by opposing defenders. Despite the precautions, Akers suffered a concussion and a knee injury early in the 1995 World Cup, and was hampered by the knee in a semifinal loss to Norway.[7][8]

In 1996, Akers was again a member of the U.S. women's national team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where it won the first ever gold medal for Olympic Women's Soccer. She played with a torn MCL (which after the Olympics required reconstructive surgery for the 3rd time) in the holding center midfielder role anchoring the team's defense, dominating in the air, and playmaking out of the back to maintain possession and generate goal scoring opportunities. She was also a member of the gold-medal-winning, 1998 Goodwill Games team. On June 7, 1998, she was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit, FIFA’s highest honor in the global game of soccer and the first ever woman to receive it, for her contributions to the game of soccer on and off the field. Akers again was a leader and member of the 1999 Women's World Cup team, where the team won their second World Cup championship and despite playing with a dislocated shoulder (from a fan in the quarterfinals) she was awarded the Bronze MVP Player of the tournament by FIFA.

Shortly before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, due to injuries incurred in the 1999 FIFA World Cup and prior, Akers retired from the game as the U.S. national team's second all-time leading scorer (behind Mia Hamm) with 105 goals, 37 assists and 247 points.[9]

International career statisticsEdit

Nation Year International appearances
Apps Starts Minutes Goals Assists
United States 1985 2 2 180 2 0
1986 5 5 420 0 0
1987 9 8 720 3 0
1988 2 2 180 0 1
1990 6 5 425 9 1
1991 26 25 1941 39 8
1993 12 12 887 6 6
1994 12 7 571 11 7
1995 18 17 1195 15 5
1996 17 16 1246 7 3
1997 2 2 180 1 0
1998 15 15 929 5 4
1999 20 18 1334 6 1
2000 7 3 242 1 0
Career total 14 153 137 10450 105 36

Matches and goals scored at World Cup and Olympic tournamentsEdit

Michelle Akers competed as a member of USA teams in three FIFA Women's World Cup: China 1991, Sweden 1995 and USA 1999; and one Olympics: Atlanta 1996; she played in 18 matches and scored 13 goals at those four global tournaments.[10] Akers was a gold medalist at Atlanta 1996 Olympics, and world champion at China 1991 and USA 1999 world cup tournaments. Akers with team USA finished third at the 1995 World Cup.

Key (expand for notes on “world cup and olympic goals”)
Location Geographic location of the venue where the competition occurred
Lineup Start – played entire match
on minute (off player) – substituted on at the minute indicated, and player was substituted off at the same time

off minute (on player) – substituted off at the minute indicated, and player was substituted on at the same time
(c) – captain

Min The minute in the match the goal was scored. For list that include caps, blank indicates played in the match but did not score a goal.
Assist/pass The ball was passed by the player, which assisted in scoring the goal. This column depends on the availability and source of this information.
penalty or pk Goal scored on penalty-kick which was awarded due to foul by opponent. (Goals scored in penalty-shoot-out, at the end of a tied match after extra-time, are not included.)
Score The match score after the goal was scored.
Result The final score.

W – match was won
L – match was lost to opponent
D – match was drawn
(W) – penalty-shoot-out was won after a drawn match
(L) – penalty-shoot-out was lost after a drawn match

aet The score at the end of extra-time; the match was tied at the end of 90' regulation
pso Penalty-shoot-out score shown in parenthesis; the match was tied at the end of extra-time
Orange background color – Olympic women's football tournament
Blue background color – FIFA women's world cup final tournament
Goal Match Date Location Opponent Lineup Min Score Result Competition
  China 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup
1991-11-17[m 1] Panyu   Sweden Start

3–2 W

Group stage
1991-11-19[m 2] Panyu   Brazil Start 39 4–0

5–0 W

Group stage
1991-11-21[m 3] Foshan   Japan {{{4}}}.

off 41' (on Lilly)

20 1–0

3–0 W

Group stage
37 2–0
1991-11-24[m 4] Foshan   Chinese Taipei Start 8 1–0

7–0 W

29 2–0
33 3–0
44 pk 5–0
48 6–0
1991-11-27[m 5] Guangzhou   Germany Start

5–2 W

1991-11-30[m 6] Guangzhou   Norway Start 20 1–0

2–1 W

79 2–1
  Sweden 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup
1995-06-06[m 7] Gävle   China PR {{{4}}}.

off 18' (on Milbrett)

3–3 D

Group stage
1995-06-15[m 8] Västerås   Norway Start

0–1 L

  Atlanta 1996 Olympic Women's Football Tournament
1996-07-21[m 9] Orlando   Denmark {{{4}}}.

off 62' (on Parlow)

3–0 W

Group stage
1996-07-23[m 10] Orlando   Sweden Start

2–1 W

Group stage
1996-07-25[m 11] Miami   China PR Start

0–0 D

Group stage
1996-07-28[m 12] Athens   Norway Start 76 pk 1–1

r 2–1 aet

1996-08-01[m 13] Athens   China PR Start

2–1 W

Gold medal match
  USA 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup
1999-06-19[m 14] E Rutherford   Denmark Start

3–0 W

Group stage
1999-06-24[m 15] Chicago   Nigeria {{{4}}}.

off 45' (on Fair)

39 5–1

7–1 W

Group stage
1999-07-01[m 16] Washington   Germany Start

3–2 W

1999-07-04[m 17] Palo Alto   Brazil Start 80 pk 2–0

2–0 W

1999-07-10[m 18] Los Angeles   China PR {{{4}}}.

off 91' (on Whalen)

0–0 (pso 5–4) (W)


Personal lifeEdit

From 1990 to 1994, she was married, and was known as Michelle Akers-Stahl.[11] Later she married again (2003–2007) and had a son in Orlando, Florida.[citation needed] As of 2011, she resided near Atlanta, Georgia, with her son Cody on a small farm doing horse rescue and animal welfare work.[12]

Since her retirement from the USWNT in 2000, she has also continued to promote the game of soccer as a spokesperson, advocate, and leader on various platforms.[13][14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jeff Carlisle (June 2, 2013). "Players whose influence reaches beyond the pitch". ESPN. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  2. ^ "Michelle Akers Named FIFA Player of the Century". US Soccer. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  3. ^ "FIFA names Akers 'Player of the Century.'". ESPN. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Schafer, Elizabeth D (2002) [1992]. Dawson, Dawn P (ed.). Great Athletes. 1 (Revised ed.). Salem Press. pp. 26–28. ISBN 1-58765-008-8.
  5. ^ Miller, Marla All-American Girls New York: Pocket Books, 1999, pp. 14–15.
  6. ^ "US WNT Flashback -- 20th Anniversary of First-Ever Match: Who Scored First?", accessed October 3, 2012.
  7. ^ Michelle Akers Biography
  8. ^ Michelle Akers enjoying life after soccer
  9. ^ Alexander, Valerie. "World Cup Soccer Stats Erase The Sport's Most Dominant Players: Women".
  10. ^ "FIFA Player Statistics: Michelle AKERS". FIFA.
  11. ^ Whiteside, Kelly (June 5, 1995). "WORLD BEATER MICHELLE AKERS, SOCCER'S TOP FEMALE, IS READY TO LEAD THE U.S. TO ANOTHER TITLE". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  12. ^ Wahl, Grant, "Green Acres", Sports Illustrated, July 4, 2011, pp. 98–101.
  13. ^ Cardenas, Natalia. Michelle Akers. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  14. ^ Scavuzzo, Diane. (12 juni 2015). Women in Soccer: Michelle Akers. Goal Nation. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
Match reports

Further readingEdit

  • Grainey, Timothy (2012), Beyond Bend It Like Beckham: The Global Phenomenon of Women's Soccer, University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803240368
  • Kassouf, Jeff (2011), Girls Play to Win Soccer, Norwood House Press, ISBN 1599534649
  • LaFontaine, P.; Valutis, E.; Griffin, C.; Weisman, L. (2001), Companions in Courage: Triumphant Tales of Heroic Athletes, Hatchette Digital Inc., ISBN 0759520518
  • Lisi, Clemente A. (2010), The U.S. Women's Soccer Team: An American Success Story, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0810874164
  • Longman, Jere (2009), The Girls of Summer: The U.S. Women's Soccer Team and How it Changed the World, HarperCollins, ISBN 0061877689
  • Mitchell, N.; Ennis, L. (2007) Encyclopedia of Title IX and Sports, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0313335877
  • Rutledge, Rachel (2000), The Best of the Best in Soccer, First Avenue Editions, ISBN 0761313923
  • Silverman, Al (2004), It's Not Over 'til it's Over, Penguin, ISBN 1468304313

External linksEdit