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USWNT great Heather O’Reilly stays unretired with USL W League

(Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)

Heather O’Reilly isn’t hanging up the cleats just yet.

The former U.S. women’s national team star is joining the North Carolina Courage’s USL W League team as a player for the summer, the team announced Thursday.

The 38-year-old has been working with the team as a player-coach in order to get in shape for her second straight appearance in Soccer Aid, an annual charity event that aims to raise money for UNICEF.

Last year’s appearance kicked off her unretirement, paving the way for her to join Ireland’s Shelbourne FC for the club’s Champions League stand. She played in just two games, scoring a game-winner against ZNK Pomurje.

“Last year inspired a Champions League comeback. Who knows what this performance will inspire?” O’Reilly recently told the Mirror. “I’m at that point in my life that I’ve done it career-wise.”

There’s not much else the USWNT legend – a three-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup winner – could do to cement herself as one of the greats. But she isn’t playing for any other reason than that she just loves the game and wants to give back.

“A lot of opportunities come up now that are just icing on the cake,” she said. “And I feel a responsibility not just to represent myself but to represent women and to be a source of inspiration.

“And maybe [me being in SoccerAid] draws more people to be interested in the women’s game and if so, that’s great. I love this game, and I think I can still play and knock it. … I feel very fortunate to play in this event, that I still have my heart in this incredible sport and that my body still mostly cooperates. But at the end of the day, it’s about the kids and raising money for them. If I’m able to do that with my platform, that’s what it’s all about.”