Michelle Akers and Thunder

Here’s a Sonny Side of Sports birthday salute for former American women’s soccer star Michelle Akers, who was born February 1, 1966, in Santa Clara, California. Between 1985 and her retirement in 2000, Michelle established herself as one of the greatest players in women’s football. She scored 105 career goals, and played on two Women’s World Cup champion teams, in 1991 and 1999, as well as the 1996 Olympic champion USA women’s team.

Akers did not leave the pitch on the best of terms.  In her own words, “I retired in 2000 from professional soccer because of injuries that occurred during my national team career … the U.S. Soccer Federation decided they were going to blow off paying for the surgery and rehabilitation I was entitled to.  After a year and a half of negotiating and battling, they (the USSF) were made to be responsible and had to pay for my medical bills.”

Since hanging up her soccer boots, Michelle has written several books, including Standing Fast, which chronicles her battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the obstacles she overcame in achieving international football success.

Michelle Akers now lives near Orlando, Florida, with her husband, Steve, “a pit bull attorney” who helped her win the case against the U.S. Soccer Federation.  She says one of her passions now is rescuing horses.