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Brandi Chastain on her World Cup-winning penalty and iconic celebration

Brandi Chastain has spoken to Off The Ball about the incredible penalty that sealed the 1999 Worl...


Brandi Chastain on her World Cup-winning penalty and iconic celebration

Brandi Chastain has spoken to Off The Ball about the incredible penalty that sealed the 1999 World Cup for the US women's national team (USWNT).

The moment not only produced the sport's biggest prize to the USA, but also catapulted Chastain to worldwide stardom - in part, due to a photo that would become iconic of her taking off her top to celebrate the win.

But the penalty is unusual not just because of the circumstances, but because Brandi took it with her left foot. While she classes herself as ambidextrous, her right was the more natural for a moment of huge importance.

The root of the decision from several months before, where Brandi found herself the subject of some intense psyching out by Gao Hong. China, at that time, the USWNT's main rivals.

"She looked at me - she smiled, she winked, she absolutely unnerved me," said Brandi of Hong, when they played in the Algarve Cup earlier that year.

After striking the ball with her right, the ball hit the bar and the USA lost.

Fast forward to the World Cup that year, and Brandi tells a story of intrigue and, perhaps, paranoia. The USA's training sessions were open to the public and coach Tony DiCicco was convinced of foul play.

As a result, the players learned to "mix it up" when it comes to dead ball situations, to wrong-foot not themselves but the Chinese opposition.

"We get to extra-time and onto penalties. Michelle Akers has been knocked out earlier in the game, so we had to make some changes.

"As we are getting ready for penalties [...] the coaches are having small conversations with players, our assistant coach Lauren Gregg asks if I want to take a penalty. I immediately thought that was a weird question because I would have taken a penalty during the run of play."

After a couple of minutes, DiCicco approached Brandi to confirm that she would be taking a penalty.

"He turned to me, he put his hand on my shoulder and he said 'You're going to take it with your left,' and then he ran away!

"I didn't spend any time thinking about it again.

"I do remember two things about it. One, that I don't recall the order in which the players are supposed to be kicking. I didn't want to ask my team-mates because I didn't want to interrupt what they were doing to prepare - I was going to wait until someone handed me the ball.

"And two, as I realise that I am the fifth kicker, the only thing that I was thinking was 'Don't look at the goalkeeper.'"

Brandi had never once hit a penalty with her left in a competitive match, but her mindset placed her in a comfortable position to do so. This was, in part, due to an unflappable belief that they would win - a trait that she believes is shared by the 2019 side.

But while Megan Rapinoe and co. might receive the adulation of the US public, they would struggle to emulate the fame that Brandi received for a celebration that caught the imagination - taking her top off and swinging it around her head.

"We had a parade when we got back - on a far smaller scale than the 2019 side - and I was presented with a framed copy of the Sports Illustrated cover," Brandi said following their return.

An iconic moment.

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Brandi Chastain Chastain Football Megan Rapinoe Rapinoe Soccer Us Womens Football. Uswnt Us Womens Soccer