Megan Rapinoe: Five fascinating facts about the US football icon

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American football legend Megan Rapinoe celebrates her 36th birthday today. To mark the occasion, GiveMeSport Women shares five fascinating facts about the winger.

Much is known about Megan Rapinoe, one of the most famous female footballers in the world. She won the Ballon d'Or Féminin in 2019 and was named The Best FIFA Women's Player in the same year.

Her accolades include an Olympic gold medal from London 2012 and two World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019.

Rapinoe is also known for her social activism. She is an active member of the LGBT+ community, has been a prominent part in the battle for equal pay, and became the first white American athlete to take the knee against racial injustice back in 2016.

But what else is there to know about Rapinoe? Here are five fascinating facts about the icon.

Rapinoe is a twin

Rapinoe grew up in Redding in California with her five siblings, including her twin Rachael. Rachael also played football until a knee ligament injury ended her career in 2012. She then went on to obtain a Master's degree in Health Studies in Exercise from Portland State.

Megan and Rachael helped each other come to terms with their sexualities. Both sisters came out while at the University of Portland together.

The Rapinoe twins used to run a business together, selling lifestyle apparel and organising national football and performance training clinics. They closed the company last year.

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Inspirational brother

Rapinoe has spoken often on how she was inspired by her older brother Brian. "I worshipped him," she said according to ESPN. "He played left wing, so I played left wing. He wore No. 7; I wore No. 7. He got a bowl cut, so I did too."

The pair now have a complicated relationship, mainly due to Brian’s drug addiction and his resulting clashes with the police. While Rapinoe won the World Cup in 2019, Brian was watching in the dormitory at San Diego's Male Community Reentry Program. Despite this, the siblings are still close.

"I have so much respect for her,” Brian told ESPN. “And not just because she's the s– at soccer. It's her utter conviction in the things that she believes in and the stances she takes against injustices in the world. I was her hero, but now – there's no question – she is mine.”

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Three separate ACL injuries

Rapinoe has overcome adversity to become one of the world’s best footballers, but she also had to overcome a number of serious injuries. One ACL tear can end a player’s career – Rapinoe has torn her ACL three times.

She first tore her left ACL in 2006 while playing in her sophomore season for the University of Portland. Rapinoe returned to the pitch the next season, but tore the same ACL just two matches after her return.

Nearly nine years after her first ACL injury, disaster struck again for Rapinoe. She tore her right ACL in 2015. When announcing the injury, Rapinoe suggested her past experience would help her get through the process once again.

“I’ll be doing everything I can to get healthy as soon as possible,” she said. “This is obviously a very difficult time, but I do feel super confident in my recovery as I’ve gone through this before and I know what the process will be like.”

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Played for Olympique Lyonnais

Rapinoe has played at OL Reign, formerly Seattle Reign, for the majority of her career. She did have a stint at Olympique Lyonnais, however, which is sometimes forgotten about.

The star joined up with the French club on a six month contract in January 2013, making her Champions League debut during this period. She decided to stay for the following season, but left Lyon earlier than planned and returned to Seattle Reign. Rapinoe had scored 8 goals in 28 matches while with the team.

Although Lyon are one of the most successful women’s teams in the world, Rapinoe revealed in her book One Life that she was unhappy during her time in France.

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Unique Olympic record

Rapinoe helped the US to Olympic gold at London 2012, scoring three goals and racking up four assists. She also set a unique record during the Games.

The winger became the first player, male or female, to score a goal directly from a corner at the Olympic Games. The name of such a goal – Olimpico – is pleasingly appropriate.

Happy birthday Megan Rapinoe!

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