Carli Lloyd is a much celebrated name in the world of women’s football. She played a major role in USA winning the 2015 FIFA World Cup and also has two Olympic golds (2008 and 2012) to her name. In fact, she has scored match-winning goals in the finals of each of those tournaments, including a hat-trick in the World Cup final against Japan this year.One of those three goals was an absolutely stunning one from near the half-line! No wonder, she became the recipient of the FIFA Women's Ballon d'Or for 2015.
A Role Model
Now 33, Lloyd has no intentions of slowing down and is yearning to wear a third Olympic Gold around her neck. The team’s head coach Jill Ellis often cites Lloyd as the player to look up to for youngsters, like 23 year-old Julie Johnston, “Jill tells us to look at Carli’s journey, her change in mindset, how fit she got”. Former team-mate Heather Mills believes that there is no one who trains like Carli! She may not be as glamourous or popular like an Alex Morgan or Hope Solo, but she is the perfect role model for youngsters taking to the sport.
Trained To Tears
Carli credits her success to long-time trainer James Galanis with whom she joined forces way back in 2002. When Galanis spotted Lloyd when she was playing for Rutgers University. He saw Carli as a gifted footballer with tremendous potential but lacking in several areas needed to make it to the very top. Carli admitted she was a difficult person to coach and that she was weak both physically and mentally. Galanis helped her improve on these areas and according to him now, they are her strengths. What he did was to break down the ultimate goal into smaller targets and work on achieving them. His training methods were so hard on Carli that she was moved to tears during one such session. He continuously got her out of the comfort zone and made her toil hard in each and every session for the past 13 years!
Highs And Lows
The hard work did pay off eventually and she made her senior team debut in 2005 and her first start came only a year later. The New Jersey native build on from that and a string of consistent performances, which included crucial game winning goals against Japan and Brazil in the final won her the 2008 US Soccer Athlete of the Year award.
She did suffer a broken ankle in 2010 and recovered well to feature in the 2011 FIFA World Cup. This is where she suffered a low point in her career where she was one of the three to miss their penalty kicks in the shootout against Japan in the final. That incident seemed to have affected her game as she was dropped in the run-up games to the 2012 London Olympics.
World Cup Final Hat-Trick
It left her completely disappointed and Galanis ordered her to lose the self-pity and work harder to improve her game. An injury to team-mate Shannon Boxx in the league stages of the Olympics meant she was called on from the bench to face France where she scored an important goal. Starting every game since, Carli scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Japan in the final.
It was redemption for Carli and it proved that she harboured no mental scars from the 2011 final. Retirement was nowhere in sight and she badly wanted the one medal missing from her wall. Come 2015, the woman who made her name as a big-match player finally got what she wanted and deservedly so. After a slow start, Lloyd came into her own in the knockout rounds where she also captained the side. Three goals scored going into the final, Carli exploded in the final, once again, against Japan. She smashed a hat-trick within the first 16 minutes of the game to become first woman and only the second person overall after England’s Geoff Hurst in the 1966 to do so in a World Cup final. Her third goal was the most remarkable, a chip from the half-way line to bamboozle Japan’s goalkeeper. The match ended 5-2 in favour of the Americans and that goal was nominated for the Ferenc Puskas Award for Goal of the Year.
Carli aims to train better and harder as she now aims to have a third Olympic gold medal around her neck. Playing in the 2019 World Cup too is something that she considers very much, a reality. Well, it won’t be surprising if she does indeed seen doing what she does best even if it is 2019!