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Pia Sundhage, the openly lesbian coach of the Olympic champion U.S. women’s soccer team, said Saturday that she was stepping down from her job and moving back to her homeland of Sweden.
In a statement released to the media, Sundhage said:
"It was an honor to be able to coach these players for five years and I learned a tremendous amount from them. I want to thank all the players and all of my assistant coaches for making me better. Before I took this job, I always admired the spirit and character of the U.S. team, but to experience that first-hand on the training field and from the bench as their coach was truly special and something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Although it is time to move on, I'd like to thank U.S. Soccer for this wonderful opportunity and I wish this team and the players all the best in the future."
The coach of the Swedish national team recently resigned, and speculation is ripe that Sundhage will take over that position. She starred for the Swedish team as a player.
Sundhage guided the U.S. women’s soccer team to two consecutive gold medals at the Olympics and compiled an impressive 88-6-10 record since she became coach in 2007. Her only disappointment as the U.S. coach was at the 2011 World Cup, in which an upstart Japan knocked off the favored Americans in a shootout in a dramatic final.
On Twitter, members of the U.S. women’s soccer team showed their love for their coach.
Hope Solo: “Pia has allowed us 2 be individuals,while showing us what aTEAMreally is.She led us to 2 Golds,1 silver AND we played beautiful football!”
Mia Hamm: “Thank you Pia for the wonderful job you did as USWNT coach. All the best to you.”
Alex Morgan: “what a great journey it has been for me these last 3 years under Pia.I have learned so much, but mostly to #enjoythejourney Thankyou Pia”
Leslie Osborne: “Our @ussoccer coach Pia Sundhage has decided 2 pursue opportunity in Sweden. 2 Olympic Gold Medals & 1 WWC silver. Great results since '08!”