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Wambach and Sundhage sweep women's awards
by Paul Kennedy, January 7th, 2013 5:14PM

TAGS:  fifa, women's national team


[FIFA AWARDS] Abby Wambach became the first American to win the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award in a decade, and Swede Pia Sundhage, who led the USA to the 2012 Olympic gold medal, was the first coach of a U.S. team honored as the World Coach of the Year for Women's Soccer.

Wambach, second all-time among women with 152 career goals, finished ahead of Brazilian Marta and U.S. teammate Alex Morgan.

"I'm very, very surprised," Wambach said. "Individual honors only happen if you have great teams and great people who have given you the chance to be here. Not only do I think Marta and Alex could have won, but many other players could have been here as well. Thanks to FIFA, thanks to U.S. Soccer and thanks to all the fans and my family for putting me in this position. I don't think of myself as the best player in the world, just a player who plays on the best team in the world."

Together, Wambach (27 goals) and Morgan (28 goals) accounted for 55 goals, tying a record for most goals scored by a duo in U.S. history that was set in 1991 by Michelle Akers (39) and Carin Jennings (16).

This marks the third time an American woman has been named Women's World Player of the Year following Mia Hamm's selection in 2001 and 2002, the first two years the award was presented.

U.S. reaction:

Sundhage, who ended a spectacular five-year tenure at the helm of the U.S. team in September 2012, finished ahead of Japan head coach Norio Sasaki and France's Bruno Bini.

She finished third in voting for World Coach of the Year in 2008 -- the first year of award -- after leading the USA to the Olympic gold medal in Beijing and second last year behind Sasaki.

She finished her career as head coach of the USA with an 88-6-10 record, including 20-1-1 in 2012 before she returned home to take the job as the head coach of the Sweden women's national team.

Watch Sundhage's acceptance speech during which she sings the praises of her players ...

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