40 greatest female athletes: Michelle Akers

Michelle Akers hung up her cleats knowing that the sport was in good hands on the home front with stars Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly. AP Photo/John T. Greilick

ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

She was a four-time All-American at Central Florida. She scored 105 goals in 153 appearances for the U.S. She earned the Golden Boot as the leading scorer at the 1991 Women's World Cup. She won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games and another World Cup in 1999. She was voted FIFA Woman Player of the Century, alongside China's Sun Wen. And in 2004, she was one of two women on Pele's list of the 125 greatest living players.

But you might not have heard of Michelle Akers, No. 27 in ESPN's countdown.

"She was one of the greatest players ever, but kids now don't necessarily know who she was because there was so much less exposure back then," former U.S. star Julie Foudy says. "The game was really just starting with her."

Read the complete story from espnW here.

Earlier in this series:

No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia

No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone

No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton

No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato

No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly

No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi

No 34: Volleyball player Flo Hyman

No. 33: Soccer player Abby Wambach

No. 32: Swimmer Mary T. Meagher

No. 31: Marathoner Joan Benoit

No. 30: Sprinter Gail Devers

No. 29: Basketball player Nancy Lieberman

No. 28: Marathoner Grete Waitz