Soccer greats from around the world praise Kristine Lilly

Today, the Boston Breakers will retire Kristine Lilly’s No. 13, making her the first player in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) to have her number retired. Players from around the world talked about how much Lilly influenced their lives.

“She was my role model growing up and then became my teammate, good friend, and mentor,” Boston Breakers midfielder and captain Leslie Osborne said. “She has a lot to do with paving the way for me to live my dream, along with thousands of other girls. I learned so much from her and will continue to. She is a legend in so many ways.”

U.S. Women’s National Team captain and magicJack defender Christie Rampone tweeted this morning: “Congrats #13! Amazing career, amazing person, Kristine Lilly!” On Friday, Rampone said: “Probably no soccer player will ever break #USWNT Member, #WPS Player, Kristine Lilly’s amazing record! Your’e the best, Lil!!!”

Also on Sunday, U.S. Soccer posted on Twitter: Happy Kristine Lilly Day in Boston today! Congrats to the #USWNT legend.”

Boston Breakers defender Rachel Buehler and a teammate of Lilly’s from when she played on the USWNT teammate, added: “Kristine Lilly is an amazing player, person, and role model to us all.  Playing with her over the last year has been a privilege. Before each game, after we do our warm up, she runs around and gives every single player on the team a high five.  That is Lil … always putting the team first and encouraging everyone.”

“I remember being 11 years old during the 1999 WWC and seeing Lil clearing that ball off the goal line like it was yesterday,” Breakers defender Kasey Moore said: “I never imagined I would be able to be teammates with one of my childhood idols, but I am so thankful for the opportunity. Lil has shown everyone in the soccer world how things should be done both on and off the field and is the true definition of a legend.”

Meagan McCray, starting keeper for Valur in Iceland’s top flight league Úrvalsdeild, played in WPS in 2010 for the Washington Freedom and 2009 for FC Gold Pride. She remembers the first day she met Lilly.

“Kristine Lilly was an inspiration from the first day I saw her play to the moment when I listened to her speak and demo in front of a group of players at a U15 Youth National Team Camp in Deerfield, Mass,” McCray said. “She was incredibly friendly, and I remember thinking, ‘I want to be like her one day.’ I never thought I’d be playing against her in the WPS! Congrats, Lilly, and thank you for everything you’ve done for women’s soccer.”

Swedish Women’s National Team midfielder Caroline Seger, who played against Lilly both in WPS and on the international level, called Lilly, “An amazing soccer player that made a huge difference for women’s soccer all over the world. I wish her best of luck in her life outside soccer.”

The Breakers will honor Lilly during halftime of Sunday’s Breakers vs. Philadelphia Independence game (4 p.m. ET). There will be a video tribute of her career and the official retiring of her No. 13.