Abby Wambach bleeds red (white and blue)

Find out why this image from 2007 remains so iconic

Abby Wambach bleeds red (white and blue)

To say Abby Wambach was an all-or-nothing player would be an understatement. The highest goalscorer in international women’s football (scoring 184 times in 256 outings for the US Women’s national team) certainly left everything on the pitch. 

On one occasion, against DPR Korea at the 2007 World Cup, Wambach collided with Ri Kum-Suk and left the pitch needing stitches with blood pouring from her head. Women’s football is often criticised for its lack of physicality compared to the men’s game, which is why the image of Wambach with blood staining her shirt is a defining one. The attacker refused to be substituted, opting to dash to the locker rooms to get patched up as the US conceded twice with her off of the pitch.

Three years later, the world would show yet more images of Wambach bleeding for the cause, this time in an Olympic qualifier with Mexico. On that occasion, with the US trailing in stoppage time, the striker stayed on the pitch as TV cameras focused on her while the physios put a line of staples in her forehead to stem the flow of blood. 

Photography: Evens Lee/Zuma Press/PA Images

Words: Sophie Lawson
First published 23 December 2019