The United States women's soccer team won the 1999 World Cup thanks in part to brilliant goalkeeping by Brianna Scurry. Her save in the penalty shootout against China set up the famous kick by teammate Brandi Chastain to win the final. Scurry had to make a personal comeback to return to the net for the United States this year.
Brianna Scurry says she became sidetracked from soccer after winning the title four years ago. "I let things slide a little bit after the World Cup in '99," she explained. "I was not in the gym as much. I was not watching what I was eating, just on the whirlwind tour of doing all kinds of stuff that I was not used to doing."
Scurry's routine shifted from daily training to a five-month tour of television talk shows, corporate appearances and speaking engagements. By 2000, she had gained about nine kilograms.
When Scurry saw a photograph of herself, she decided to "Make a complete change in my attitude and my approach to everything. Changed the way I trained. And decided I wanted to come back to the [U.S.] national team. Not just better than everybody else, but the best Brianna Scurry I could be."
Scurry estimates her vertical leap is 15 centimeters higher than before and her punts are longer than her booming kicks in the previous World Cup.
"Oh, I am a hundred times better than I was then. More experienced," she said. "I am more invested in this World Cup than I was then. I am just so much of a better player. I am the same weight, but completely different body composition. My fitness is just so much better than it was then. I feel like I am a kid with new toys. Right now, things are really good. Team is playing great, which I could not ask for much more than the way things are going right now."
The 32-year-old Scurry was the 2003 goalkeeper-of-the-year in the now defunct WUSA professional league, and is now aiming for one more World Cup title.