Monday 23 September 2019, 17:16

Rapinoe: I think I'm pretty close to my best now

  • Megan Rapinoe is The Best FIFA Women's Player 2019

  • The USA star claimed the award after a stellar France 2019

  • Rapinoe: "There were some incredible moments"

Megan Rapinoe is The Best FIFA Women's Player 2019. The 34-year-old saw off USA team-mate Alex Morgan and England star Lucy Bronze to claim the highest individual prize in women's football.

The award caps a remarkable year both personally - she claimed the adidas Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ - and with the USA who won the France 2019 title in July. caught up with Rapinoe moments after she received her trophy on stage at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. How does it feel to hold The Best FIFA Women’s Player award in your hand? Megan Rapinoe: It’s extremely heavy! To hold it in my hands is a dream come true, it’s very exciting. Credit to everyone else in my life, I wouldn’t be here without all of them. It’s quite surreal to be honest, I’ve never been to [The Best FIFA Football Awards], and I’m quite old for it to be my first one!

You made a pretty powerful acceptance speech, how did it feel to have that stage to speak to the world? In a room full of such influential and powerful people and people that have the ability to change the world, it felt like it was the right time and the right opportunity to say what I had to say.

It’s been a really good year of football. Who did you enjoy watching playing, on both sides: men and women? I mean, we had the Women’s World Cup – the whole thing was amazing. There were some incredible moments. Thailand scoring their first goal, I thought Norway were great. We did... alright! Playing in France, in Paris at the Parc des Princes was incredible. I don’t know if I can pick out one player. Maybe Sam Kerr, she’s tearing it up. She’s just a goal a game, every game.

On the men’s side… I think my favourite player right now is Kevin de Bruyne. He’s kind of low key but he is just incredible. He pulls all the strings in that midfield for City.

At France 2019, you won the adidas Golden Ball and adidas Golden Boot – have we seen the very best of you? I never really want to put a limit on myself, but I think we’re probably pretty close to the top right now! The last couple of years have definitely been the top, but I think to put it all together into the most important tournament for us and to be able to bring the trophy home for our country again, that’s got to be a high for me.

What were the differences between the journey in 2015 and in 2019? They were vastly different. Even now I was only a few years older, it felt like I was way older. I had such an incredible group of veterans that were with me almost my whole career. Having to take that much more of a leadership role, becoming almost instantly one of the oldest players on the whole team after all of them retired… just a whole lot more responsibility and you just have to think about a lot more. With that there’s a different sense of pride almost in that you’re taking care of the team and doing all these other things and then you see the team succeed and then you’re proud of your team in a different way.

Jill Ellis only has a couple of games left as the USWNT coach. If you had to say thanks to Jill for something, what would it be? I think Jill put us all in a position to be the best players we can be. I think it showed on the field that we had incredible chemistry as a team and we knew exactly the way that we were going to win. That was a lot different from 2015 where I felt like the whole tournament we were kind of figuring out exactly what we were going to do, this time it felt like we just kind of looked in each other’s eyes and knew exactly the way that we wanted to play, and that was a huge credit to Jill and the coaching staff.