US & Canada

Abby Wambach: Football star admits alcohol abuse

Abby Wambach kisses wife Sarah Huffman Image copyright AP
Image caption Abby Wambach kisses wife Sarah Huffman after winning World Cup

One of the biggest stars in women's football has talked about her former addiction to alcohol and prescribed drugs.

Abby Wambach, who scored a world record 184 goals for the US team, said her arrest in April for driving under the influence was a wake-up call.

"I was stubborn and I was in denial," she told the Associated Press.

In a new book, she also discusses her high-profile marriage to fellow football player Sarah Huffman.

Until her arrest, Wambach had abused alcohol and prescription drugs like Vicodin and Adderall for years.

"That night getting arrested was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Because if I don't get so publicly shamed and publicly humiliated, I don't think I wake up," she said.

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Media captionAbby Wambach explains why she is quitting football

"I think I was asleep for a lot of years. Asleep to the pleas from my family and friends, and even myself, to get help. So that night I was humiliated enough to wake up."

Wambach was pulled over in Oregon after dinner with friends and she woke up the next morning to see her face all over the US media.

Image copyright AP

There was a lot going on in her life, she said. Wambach's marriage was in trouble (she is currently getting a divorce), she was struggling with retirement and had started a new job.

After being released from jail, she used a Facebook post to take responsibility and apologised to her family, friends and supporters.

Sponsors left her and she pleaded guilty to driving under the influence.

Image copyright AP

In court documents, officers wrote that she first used marijuana at age 24 and cocaine at 25.

Her memoir, called Forward, is released on Tuesday and the double Olympic gold medallist has based the chapter names on words used to describe her over the years - tomboy, captain, lesbian and addict.

The leading goalscorer in men or women's football retired in December after 15 years with the US women's team.

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