It took 16 minutes for Carli Lloyd to deliver a long-overdue Women’s World Cup title for the U.S. women’s national soccer team this summer in Canada. But Lloyd had a message for everyone after she was named the 2015 Women’s World Player of the Year award Monday in Zurich.
“Those 16 minutes were 13 years in the making,” said the hardworking, New Jersey native.
Lloyd has long wanted to win the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award. She just figured the feat may not be accomplished until 2016 or beyond. But after her incredible hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the widely viewed finale against Japan, it was hard to deny Lloyd’s place in history. Lloyd is now the third U.S. player to win soccer’s top price after Mia Hamm (2001, 2002) and Abby Wambach (2012).
“It’s truly an honor. It has been a dream come true,” Lloyd said, who congratulated Celia Sasic of Germany and Aya Miyama of Japan, the two outstanding soccer champions who were also up for the award.
Lloyd also thanked her 23 teammates: “We all know it took 23 players to win the World Cup,’’ she said.
The FIFA World Player of the Year trophy is the crowning achievement this year for the 33-year-old Lloyd, the U.S. midfielder who is now a main threat in the U.S. women’s attack. With 18 of her 80 career goals in 211 caps coming in 2015, Lloyd was also named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in December and who racked up the Golden Ball and Silver Boot honors at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
“I think it’s being mentally prepared. Physical preparation gets you there and keeps you there, being mentally strong and tough, visualising, being ready and focused keeps you there. A switch goes off in crunch situations when my team needs me,” said Lloyd, adding that she thrives in those moments.
The award will help cement Lloyd’s reputation as one of the greatest clutch players in the history of the women’s game. She scored the game winners for the U.S. in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medal matches, in addition to her 2015 Women’s World Cup heroics.
With midfielders Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe out on yellow card suspensions, and with the U.S. struggling to score in the early rounds of the World Cup tournament, U.S. coach pushed Lloyd into an attacking role. The move to unleash Lloyd solidified not only the U.S. team’s first World Cup win in 16 years, it secured the FIFA World Player of the Year honor for Lloyd and FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year honors for Ellis.
Lloyd credited her private coach, James Galanis, for believing she could become the best player in the world. With an unparalleled dedication to training and an uncompromising mentality to become the most fit, most mentally tenacious player in the world, Lloyd said has finally come to really believe what Galanis has been telling her all along.
With the retirement of Wambach, Lloyd’s prominence on the U.S. side will make her a vital part of the U.S. attack heading into Olympic qualifying in February. Lloyd is more than ready to take on the lion’s share of work for the U.S. After the whistle blew in Vancouver and Lloyd had finally led the U.S. to its third Women’s World Cup, she called Galanis and asked when they could start training again.
“Nothing’s been handed to me. I’ve had to work for every single moment. You learn more in your failures than you do in your success. I try to take a positive approach through every situation I go through,” Lloyd said.