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Megan Rapinoe honored in front of record crowd as she nears retirement

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — Megan Rapinoe was celebrated at her last regular season home game for her club OL Reign on Friday as she edges closer towards retirement and, fittingly, a record NWSL crowd of 34,130 was there to witness the moment.

“It just feels like home. It was always the safest place,” an emotional Rapinoe said on the pitch in Seattle afterwards. “This was just always the place where I could be myself and be safe and be protected, just go out and try stuff.

“To be able to play here my whole career in one city, basically with one manager…it’s just really special to be able to have this.”

Rapinoe has played at the Seattle-based club since 2013 – the NWSL’s inaugural season – and seen the profile of the sport grow immensely over the decade.

On the pitch, Rapinoe’s teammates posed for pictures holding a different photo of the soccer star in front of their faces while figures such as Billie Jean King, Magic Johnson, Mikaela Shiffrin and the second gentleman Doug Emhoff contributed to a tribute video shown before the game.

Her club OL Reign settled for a 0-0 draw against the Washington Spirit but the crowd had assembled for more than just the game – fans wore pink wigs in honor of Rapinoe’s iconic hairstyle and held colorful homemade signs thanking her for her impact on and off the field.

A double World Cup winner and Olympic gold medalist, the 38-year-old leaves a remarkable legacy in her wake, perhaps best encapsulated by the iconic photo of her at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, triumphant with her arms outstretched.

It seemed to symbolize both her sporting success and activism as she has stood up for many issues throughout her career including racial equality, women’s rights, pay parity and LGBTQ+ issues.

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