Carli Lloyd, the American GOAT superstar, is bidding farewell to her international career. But behind the success, there has been a price to pay.
Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.
One story every day to make sense of the world of football.
Today, the pain behind the smile, and why failure is necessary to success.
If you enjoy watching sport, the chances are you’ve seen The Last Dance.
The series follows the Chicago Bulls’ journey to a sixth NBA title – spearheaded by Michael Jordan.
A key reason for its popularity? Because it’s a warts and all look at Jordan and what he went through to become basketball’s GOAT: the Greatest Of All Time.
“Six championships in eight years.”
“We were the greatest team ever.”
“I’m gonna ridicule you until you get on the same level with me.”
“It was his team.”
“My mentality was to go out and win. At any cost.”ESPN
Jordan himself said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Failure is victory’s constant companion.
And don’t just take Jordan’s word for it. Carli Lloyd tells a similar story.
Carli is a footballing legend in the States. And just a few days ago, she retired. The accolades immediately followed.
As a colleague said, “She’s completed football.”
She made 316 appearances for the US Women’s National Team, scoring 134 times. She helped team-mates score 64 times. She won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals.
The moment no-one will forget? The World Cup final in 2015.
“Veteran Carli Lloyd had the game of her life, scoring an historic hat-trick in just 16 minutes. These first two were slotted home in just the first five minutes.”
“Lloyd with Morgan streaking, she’s chivvied the goalkeeper! Off the post and in! Hat-trick for Lloyd!”
“After the win, she was rewarded for her stellar performance in this tournament with the golden ball.”FOX Sports
Lloyd has been embraced by America. She’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, been honoured at the White House, been on all the major talk shows.
That’s when people started calling her the GOAT.
But just like Michael Jordan, behind the success and the glamour there was a price to pay.
“I’ve never been pegged as the next best thing coming out of college and no-one thought that I could achieve all that I have achieved. The one person that did was… the belief I had within myself. And I hope that my career was a blueprint for others to say… you know what? It doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter who likes you, just be so good that they can’t ignore you.”We Need To Talk – CBS
In an article in The Players’ Tribune – timed to coincide with her retirement – she let the mask slip on what it’s like being a top athlete.
Instead of banging on about the good times – something she’d earned the right to do – she wrote about the flip side of success about those moments when sport will break you… about the time she sobbed for days in her garage after missing a penalty in the 2011 World Cup Final and then again when she was benched before the 2012 Olympics.
Worthless. That’s how she felt.
She listed all the “ugly things” she’d been called: Complicated. Infuriating. Selfish. A liability. Hard to manage. And her favourite? The weirdest world-class athlete ever.
Yes, she’d felt the highest highs but she’d also been sad, anxious and depressed.
Her candour was breathtaking.
But sport is learning that candour is what counts.
Her’s – and Jordan’s – has come at the end of a career.
But increasingly, athletes aren’t waiting until then before speaking out.
Take Simone Biles. She’s the most decorated gymnast in history. She withdrew from competition part-way through this summer’s Olympics, saying she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. It was time to put her mental health first.
“What happens at the Olympics, it’s like in gym we call it the twistees. There should be a better word, because it sucks to have ‘em. For anybody. And then I’m starting to get like mental blocks where I don’t wanna go for the skill because I’m afraid I’m gonna get hurt because I’m not doing the correct flip.”Today
Similarly, the tennis player, Naomi Osaka, withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon after revealing how the pressure from journalists in press conferences was affecting her mental health.
Trophies are an essential part of sport. But, as we are learning, there’s a lot more to it than success. On their way to achieving it, athletes pay a price….and that price is sometimes considerable.
Carli Lloyd wrote that people don’t understand the sacrifices involved in pursuing greatness.
Perhaps if more people like her speak out, they will finally gain a much-needed window into just how tough that journey really is.
Today’s episode was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Studio Klong.