What makes Carli Lloyd The Best, is her desire to continue improving. Crowned yesterday as The Best FIFA Women's Player - an award voted for by players, coaches, media and fans from across the globe - the USA international has retained her title as the world's top female footballer.
On stage, Lloyd was incredibly humble in receiving the award, saying that she "honestly wasn't expecting" to win, despite a superlative year in terms of goals and assists for her national team. The co-captain of the USWNT said she would not have won the award without the help of her team-mates, adding that she is "someone who wants to continue to get better, because if I'm better, the team is better off."
Having capped another special year with this latest award, Lloyd spoke to FIFA.com about her outstanding personal achievements with the national team, marrying her childhood sweetheart and the next phase of her career.
FIFA.com: How do you feel after being named The Best FIFA Women's Player 2016? Carli Lloyd: It's such a tremendous honour to have been named player of the year last year and again this year. It feels the same. It is humbling. You work incredibly hard each and every day. But this award is not derailing me. I want to keep getting better. There are so many things that I can work and improve on. I just want to go out there and help my team win, and I want to be the best that I can be. That is my next goal.
What was the best moment of 2016 for you, and why?
The Best moment of 2016 might have come off the field for me. I got married to my high school sweetheart Brian, which was one of the best days and trips of my life. There are World Cups, Olympics, amazing soccer moments in my career but to get married to the love of your life is really something special. Another memorable moment I would say is just the journey of 2016. It wasn’t easy. Coming off of a World Cup win in 2015, 2016 was a tough one. I was injured, we didn’t win [the Olympics] but you learn more from your failures than you do from your success. I think 2016 for me on a football side was definitely a learning experience to continue to get better.
*You have said you were more anxious on your wedding day than on the day of the World Cup final. How do you learn to zone in and be calm on important match days? *A typical matchday for me is to get a good night’s rest, wake up in the morning, go for a 15 minute light jog to get the body moving, stretch out, get everything in motion. Eat breakfast, eat another couple of meals, stretch out, constantly drink water and just get my mind on the game and be ready and focused, and that’s that. Once the whistle blows, it’s game time.
*Can you describe what it's like to end 2016 as your country's leading scorer and assist-maker? *As far as stats are concerned, they're something that I’m continuously working at but they don't define who I am, or really matter to me. What matters to me is connecting with my team-mates, winning games, helping my team win - those are the most important things. It’s my job as a striker now to put the ball in the back of the net, because if I do that, it gives our team a greater chance of winning. For me, in my game, evolving in the final third, getting better as a false No9, those are the keys that I’m going to be focusing on for this next phase of my career. At the end of the day, stats don’t mean anything because if you’re not winning World Cups or Olympics then you’re not winning too much.
*How do you explain going from being cut from the U-21 national team to, about a decade later, becoming your country's co-captain and leader? How did you stay motivated and achieve that? *It hasn’t been an easy journey, getting cut from the U-21 international team, figuring I was going to pack it in and finish up my collegiate career, then move on and find a day job. But that changed quickly, with the help of my trainer James Galanis, having this journey together to become the best player in the world, and continuously getting better. It’s a fire and desire inside of me to always want to be uncomfortable because when you’re uncomfortable you can continue to get better. If you’re always comfortable and just playing within your comfort zone, there’s no way of knowing how far you can go. For me it’s about continuously evolving my game, linking with my team-mates, making the team-mates around me better and it’s also the best job in the world to have amazing team-mates around you who make you look good, who can feed you balls and assist you. It’s been a great journey and I just want to keep evolving and keep getting better.
*When you do eventually finish your playing career, where do you see future lying? *The plan is for me to finish after the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and transition to the next phase of my career, post-retirement. I think there will be things that will open up, I’m not really closing any doors, whether that’s coaching, commentating, staying somehow involved in the game. Obviously I want to start a family, so that’ll be a full time job itself, but I want to help continuing to evolve the game in a different way. Not necessarily on the field, but off the field as well, to keep making it better for generations to come.