Michelle Akers

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Michelle Akers
Personal information
Full name Michelle Anne Akers[1]
Date of birth (1966-02-01) February 1, 1966 (age 56)
Place of birth Santa Clara, California, U.S.
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Position(s) 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
International career
1985–2000 United States 155 (107)
Managerial career
2022– Orlando Pride (assistant)
Medal record
Women's soccer
Representing  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1996 Atlanta Team competition
FIFA Women's World Cup
Gold medal – first place 1991 China Team competition
Gold medal – first place 1999 USA Team competition
Bronze medal – third place 1995 Sweden Team competition
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Michelle Anne Akers (formerly Akers-Stahl; born February 1, 1966) is an American former soccer player who starred in the 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup and 1996 Olympics victories by the United States. At the 1991 World Cup, she won the Golden Shoe as the top scorer, with ten goals.

Akers is regarded as one of the greatest female football players in history.[2] She was named FIFA Female Player of the Century in 2002, an award she shared with China's Sun Wen.[3][4] 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 (U.S.) National Soccer Hall of Fame; she was inducted in 2004, along with Paul Caligiuri and Eric Wynalda.

Early life[edit]

Born to Robert and Anne Akers in Santa Clara, California[5] on February 1, 1966, Akers grew up in the Seattle, Washington suburb of Shoreline, where she attended and played soccer for Shorecrest High School.[6] Early in her career, she was not sure whether she was willing to do the training necessary to excel. After losing a youth game, she was frustrated and walked off the field in tears. Her father asked her "Did you have fun". Her answer was "yes" which led to the realization that this was the real reason she played, and that helped turn her into the fierce competitor she became.[5] She was named an All-American three times during her high school career.[6] At 5 feet 10 inches (178 cm) in height and 150 pounds (68 kg), Akers had an imposing physical presence on the soccer field and was noted for her aggressive and physical style of play.[7]

University of Central Florida[edit]

Akers attended the University of Central Florida on a scholarship where she was selected as four-time NCAA All-American.[6] She was Central Florida's Athlete of the Year in 1988–89, was the all-time leading scorer in UCF history,[6] won the Hermann Trophy in 1988 as the nation's top college soccer player,[6] and had her #10 jersey retired by the school.[8]

International career[edit]

Akers was a member of the 1985 United States women's national soccer team (USWNT) for its first-ever 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 U.S.'s second-ever international game, she scored the first goal in the history of the program, in a 2–2 tie against Denmark.[9]

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 Female Athlete of the Year by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).[6] 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.[6] This led the U.S. women's team to the first women's world championship, defeating Norway 2–1 in the final. Akers scored both U.S. goals in the final.[10][11]

After the 1991 World Cup, she shifted from striker to central 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 the U.S.'s semifinal loss to Norway.[12][13]

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 gold medal in Olympic Women's Soccer. She played with a torn medial collateral ligament in the holding central 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. After the tournament her knee required reconstructive surgery for the third time. 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, for her contributions to the game of soccer on and off the field; she was the first woman ever to receive it. Akers again was a leader and member of the 1999 Women's World Cup team, where the team won their second World Cup championship. Despite playing with a dislocated shoulder, caused by a fan in the quarterfinals,[14] she was awarded the Bronze Ball of the tournament by FIFA.[15]

Shortly before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Akers retired from the game due to injuries incurred before and during the 1999 FIFA World Cup. She was the U.S. national team's second all-time leading scorer (behind Mia Hamm) with 105 goals, 37 assists and 247 points.[16]

Coaching career[edit]

On January 19, 2022, the Orlando Pride announced Akers as an assistant coach for the 2022 season, serving under head coach Amanda Cromwell. She will also serve in a player development and mentorship role, and will assist with community outreach.[17]

Personal life[edit]

From 1990 to 1994, she was married and was known as Michelle Akers-Stahl.[18] Later she married again (2003–2007) and had a son in Orlando, Florida.[19] As of 2011, she resided near Atlanta, Georgia, with her son Cody on a small farm doing horse rescue and animal welfare work.[20]

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.[21][22]

Career statistics[edit]

Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
United States[23] 1985 2 2
1986 5 0
1987 9 3
1988 2 0
1990 6 9
1991 26 39
1993 12 6
1994 12 11
1995 18 15
1996 17 7
1997 2 1
1998 15 5
1999 20 6
2000 7 1
Total 153 105
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 21 August 1985 Stadio Armando Picchi, Jesolo, Italy  Denmark 1–? 2–2 Mundialito 1985
2. 23 August 1985 Stadio Giovanni Chiggiato, Caorle, Italy  England 1–? 1–3
44. 19 November 1991 Henry Fok Stadium, Guangzhou, China  Brazil 4–0 5–0 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup
45. 21 November 1991 New Plaza Stadium, Foshan, China  Japan 1–0 3–0
46. 2–0
47. 24 November 1991  Chinese Taipei 1–0 7–0
48. 2–0
49. 3–0
50. 5–0
51. 6–0
52. 30 November 1991 Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou, China  Norway 1–0 2–1
53. 2–1
24 June 1999 Soldier Field, USA  Nigeria 5-1 7-1 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup
4 July 1999 Stanford Stadium, USA  Brazil 2-0 2-0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Michelle Akers". SoccerTimes. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  2. ^ Jeff Carlisle (June 2, 2013). "Players whose influence reaches beyond the pitch". ESPN. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  3. ^ "Michelle Akers Named FIFA Player of the Century". US Soccer. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  4. ^ "FIFA names Akers 'Player of the Century.'". ESPN. Archived from the original on February 14, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Layden, Joseph, 1959- (1997). Women in sports : the complete book on the world's greatest female athletes. Los Angeles: General Pub. Group. p. 14. ISBN 1-57544-064-4. OCLC 36501288.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Schafer, Elizabeth D (2002) [1992]. Dawson, Dawn P (ed.). Great Athletes. Vol. 1 (Revised ed.). Salem Press. pp. 26–28. ISBN 1-58765-008-8.
  7. ^ Miller, Marla All-American Girls New York: Pocket Books, 1999, pp. 14–15.
  8. ^ "Michelle Akers - Women's Soccer (1984, 1986-88) - Class of 1998". UCF Athletics. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "US WNT Flashback – 20th Anniversary of First-Ever Match: Who Scored First?" http://www.ussoccer.com/News/Womens-National-Team/2005/08/U-S-WNT-Flashback-20th-Anniversary-Of-First-Ever-Match-Who-Scored-First.aspx, accessed October 3, 2012.
  10. ^ "Michelle Akers - All 12 goals in World Cup". youtube.com. Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  11. ^ Abnos, Alexander. "Start of Something Big". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  12. ^ Michelle Akers Biography http://www.biography.com/people/michelle-akers-21321911#national-superstar
  13. ^ Michelle Akers enjoying life after soccer http://www.cfs-info.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=712&Itemid=79
  14. ^ "Soccer Star Akers Out Of Games". CBS. August 24, 2000. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  15. ^ "1999 FIFA Women's World Cup". U.S. Soccer. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  16. ^ Alexander, Valerie (July 7, 2014). "World Cup Soccer Stats Erase The Sport's Most Dominant Players: Women". Jezebel.com.
  17. ^ "Orlando Pride Announces Assistant Coaching Staff Ahead of 2022 NWSL Season". Orlando Pride. January 19, 2022. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Josh Robbins (September 19, 2007). "With the U.S. women chasing the World Cup, Michelle Akers is a happy mom at home just..." Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  20. ^ Wahl, Grant, "Green Acres", Sports Illustrated, July 4, 2011, pp. 98–101.
  21. ^ Cardenas, Natalia. Michelle Akers. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  22. ^ Scavuzzo, Diane. (12 juni 2015). Women in Soccer: Michelle Akers. Archived June 12, 2018, at the Wayback Machine Goal Nation. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  23. ^ "FIFA Century Club" (PDF). FIFA. February 9, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 23, 2014.
Match reports

Further reading[edit]

  • 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 links[edit]