Twenty-four years later, Brandi Chastain remains one of the faces of the Women’s World Cup.

In 1999, after scoring the deciding penalty kick to lift the United States Women’s National Team to victory in the World Cup final, Chastain ripped off her jersey in celebration, creating one of the most iconic images in the history of the tournament.

But Chastain was hardly compensated at an amount commensurate with her ability at the time. For her first World Cup championship, in 1991, Chastain was paid $500.

“None of us started playing soccer because we thought we were going to get paid,” Chastain said on the 91st with Midge Purce and Katie Nolan. “We started playing soccer, and we stuck with soccer, because it made us feel good. We found our friends, we found a place where we could express ourselves, where we could get dirty and compete like crazy.

“Getting on the national team was just an amazing byproduct of all the fun that I had when I was a kid and all the sacrifices my parents made, with their time and the little resources my family had, to be part of the great game.”

In May 2022, a group of current and former members of the USWNT settled a lawsuit with U.S. Soccer over equal pay. U.S. Soccer agreed to pay the group $24 million in what amounted to backpay, as well as a pledge to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s teams in all competitions in the teams’ next collective bargaining agreement.

“Getting my first World Cup championship check for $500, it looks pretty good where we are,” Chastain said.

The United States Women’s National has not yet officially moved on from coach Vlatko Andonovski, but all signs point to the program making a move after its disappointing World Cup performance.

Brandi Chastain, the legendary USWNT forward and defender, in an appearance on the The 91st acknowledged to hosts Midge Purce and Katie Nolan that she is “not ready” but would “love to lead this national team some time in the future.”

“I’ve been asking to participate with our youth national teams for a while and have not gotten any traction,” she said. “I’m an A-licensed coach, I’ve been a volunteer at Santa Clara University probably for about 25 years, I coach youth soccer, I’ve been on the national team for 192 caps.”

Andonovski was hired in 2019 to replace Jill Ellis, who led the USWNT to back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019. In his first major test, the team finished third at the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo. Andonovski’s team was then knocked out in the Round of 16 at this year’s World Cup, triggering speculation about his dismissal.

Chastain refrained from naming any potential replacements but described what she believes the program needs in a leader.

“We have to have someone who is a risk taker, and also can hold their ground in this respectful way with the players,” Chastain said. “This is about respect, and this is about the game, and this is about putting together a gameplan and putting players in positions to be successful.”

Chastain recalled how former USWNT coach Tony DiCicco called on Chastain to play left back instead of forward in her later years on the USWNT.

“I had been away already from the national team and I knew what that felt like, and I wanted to be back in that mix,” Chastain said. “I figured he wouldn’t put me in a position that he didn’t feel I could be successful in, or I wouldn’t be able to contribute. So I took a chance.

“I think those are the kinds of things we need to do. We need to look at ourselves and be creative. We need to take risks.”

Asisat Oshoala made global headlines in Nigeria’s 3-2 upset win over Australia in the group stage of the World Cup on Thursday.

Oshoala came off the bench to score the decisive goal in the victory for Nigeria in the 72nd minute. She then channeled U.S. women’s national team legend Brandi Chastain’s iconic 1999 celebration by tearing off her jersey.

Who is Oshoala? Just Women’s Sports has the rundown.

Age: 28
Position: Forward
Nigeria debut: June 8, 2015
Total caps: 24

Who is Oshoala?

Oshoala is one of the most celebrated African players of all time. The 28-year-old forward for Nigeria and Barcelona was born in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Nigeria. Her parents did not approve of her playing soccer, and she had to sneak away when she played. She dropped out of high school at 15 to pursue the game.

She turned into one of her nation’s biggest stars and, with her goal on Thursday, became the first African player to score in three Women’s World Cups. She has won Africa’s Women’s Footballer of the Year a record five times.

“I want to make sure I fight for my teammates, fight for this badge. This is the best county in the world,” Oshoala said after the Australia win.

Where does she play professionally?

Oshoala joined Barcelona on loan in 2019, and then transferred to the team after the season. She has scored 95 goals for the club and helped lead the team to the 2019-20 Copa de la Reina and 2019-20 Supercopa de España Femenina championships.

Before that, Oshoala played for Chinese club Dalian Quanjian, Arsenal and Liverpool.

What does she bring to Nigeria?

Oshoala brings a wealth of experience, having played in three previous World Cups and served as captain of the 2019 team. She also led Nigeria to African Women’s Championships in 2016 and 2018.

She remains one of most Nigeria’s dangerous weapons despite starting the Australia game on the bench, a decision meant to manage her long-term leg injury, coach Randy Waldrum said. When she does play, she can provide instant offense.

“She’s such a force physically,” Waldrum said. “She can create problems — the third goal was massive. When we talked about her role — she’s like any player, she wants to be on all the time — I said, ‘I just have a feeling, come on for the last 30 minutes and make a difference.’”

What have coaches said about Oshoala?

Randy Waldrum, Nigeria coach: “When you think of African football, people think of Asisat, and she’s a big blend of a couple of great traits; she’s just a stud athlete, a big player, physically strong, fast, hyper-athletic, and she’s got a great soccer IQ.”

Jonatan Giráldez, Barcelona coach: “Attitude, desire, predisposition. Asisat was one of the most important players at the start of last year.”

The NWSL is headed to the Bay Area.

On Tuesday, the league announced a second expansion franchise for the 2024 season, awarding rights for what will become the 14th team in the league to a San Francisco-area group.

“Northern California has been a key generator of women’s soccer talent throughout the history of the sport, and the Bay Area is a top-ten media market known for its diverse culture and vibrant ecosystem of creativity and innovation,” the league said in a release.

The Bay Area club and the returning Utah Royals are both set to begin play in 2024.

“The Bay Area is where this all began,” said U.S. women’s national team legend Brandi Chastain, one of the club’s lead investors. “We are as excited about what this club will achieve on the field of play as we are for what it will represent for generations of women athletes and professionals yet to come.”

Majority investor Sixth Street leads a stacked lineup. Sixth Street has investments in Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and the San Antonio Spurs, and is also partnered with the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys.

“Sixth Street is making the largest institutional investment in women’s professional soccer to date as the NWSL experiences record-breaking viewership, attendance, and sponsorship growth,” the league’s statement read.

The group has partnered with former USWNT stars Chastain, Danielle Slaton, Leslie Osborne and Aly Wagner. All were part of launching the original effort to bring a NWSL expansion team to the Bay Area.

They will be dubbed the club’s “Founding Football Four” for their efforts and will work alongside Sixth Street and a majority-women board.

“This is something we’ve been working on for almost three years,” said Slaton, “and to reach this point and officially be accepted into the NWSL is both a dream come true and a motivator, because now it’s time to start building.”

The new club has yet to reveal its name and logo.

It’s been two and a half months since Chloe Kelly’s sports bra goal celebration caught the attention of Brandi Chastain, who became an icon after scoring the game-winning penalty kick for the U.S. women’s national team in the 1999 World Cup title and taking off her sports bra in celebration. Kelly scored the game-winner in the 2022 Euro final this summer at Wembley Stadium in London to help the Lionesses claim their first major tournament trophy.

After England’ 2-1 win over the USWNT at Wembley on Friday, Chastain met the English forward to reflect on Kelly’s big moment and what it meant for the next generation of women’s soccer players.

“I think that’s what every young girl wanted to be, is seen on the football pitch and to have a space out there that they belong,” Chastain told her. “The fact that it was on such a big stage and the significance of that victory obviously has changed the world of football here in England just like in the U.S. 20 something years ago.”

Chastain said there were a lot of young girls in the stands for Friday’s game, which had a crowd of 76,893 fans, and that Kelly’s goal in the Euro final in July helped propel the game forward. Kelly had scored 20 minutes into stoppage time to secure the 2-1 win over Germany.

“They will forever remember the moment,” Chastain said. “And they will want to have an opportunity to replicate it in 20 years. That’s fantastic to me.”

In the annals of women’s sports iconography in the United States, not many images hold greater space in the minds of a generation than Brandi Chastain, jersey off, screaming on her knees in triumph after scoring the game-winning penalty kick for the U.S. women’s national team at the 1999 World Cup. That moment etched the team’s second star, one they wouldn’t add to for another 16 years, and it continues to loom large over the storied program.

Twenty-three years later, Chastain believes that victory set the USWNT on a path toward excellence, serving as one chapter in a long history of a team that always seeks to rise and meet the moment in front of them.

While there’s never a bad time to commemorate a cornerstone of women’s sports history, this year has thrown into sharp focus just how important the push for progress has been in the years since Chastain kicked the USWNT to glory.

“We had an excellent balance,” she says now of the ‘99 team. “And I think it’s that kind of humility and grace and awareness, that if every company could have that, they would be Fortune 500. I know the significance and the depth of the well of resources that are women, and women’s soccer players specifically. It’s undeniable.”

The lasting image of Brandi Chastain celebrating her game-winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup final. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

Just Women’s Sports’ first conversation with the former defender came not long after the women’s national team had settled its equal pay lawsuit with U.S. Soccer; by the second conversation, the USWNT had signed a historic CBA, the country had celebrated 50 years of Title IX, and the Supreme Court had struck down Roe v. Wade, which made access to abortion a constitutional right for nearly 50 years. To call the past few months an emotional rollercoaster for women’s rights would be an understatement.

Within all of these historic moments, Chastain feels that the public has gained a better understanding of who the USWNT was in 1999, and what the players hope to be now. Recently, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach participated in a roundtable for ESPN’s Title IX documentary “37 words.” Goalkeeper Briana Scurry, whose penalty save against China made Chastain’s winning moment possible, has come out with both a memoir and a documentary this summer to great acclaim.

In 2022, the movement the USWNT kicked off in 1999 is finally getting the widespread appreciation it deserved. Conversations around the team also appear to be more representative of what it took to transform a corner of the sports world with just one kick.

“Part of the national team, if you play for the women’s soccer team, part of your mandate is to raise the bar for equal pay, and the other part is obviously to play brilliant soccer and win everything,” Scurry told Just Women’s Sports in June. “Those are two really high standards to hold.”

External forces surrounding the team, however, haven’t always lived up to the moment. Even after the USWNT achieved prominence in ‘99, the needle never moved quite fast enough, and the players watched as the rest of the world moved on.

“You’re winning big tournaments like the World Cup, and yet you’re anonymous,” Chastain says. “You know that you need to continue to push forward, and you feel that your own group is not taking you as seriously or holding your value the same as they hold someone else’s.”

The players and coaching staff were the glue that held the team together during the years when it felt like nobody else cared. Chastain still speaks glowingly of Tony DiCicco, who led the team to the ‘96 Olympic gold medal and ‘99 World Cup title with a coaching style that was firm but kind, gentle but with high expectations.

“I had some great coaches, great role models. They didn’t always look like me, but they cared about the space a lot, they were willing to be in a space that was not traditionally that cool,” she says. “They wanted each one of the players to blossom into the best player that they could be.”

Chastain also remembers the mental and emotional burden that fell on the players, the extent of which many are only beginning to speak about now.

“The shoulders of Mia [Hamm] and Michelle [Akers], in particular, before anything really got traction, they carried the most weight,” she says. “And they may have carried the most significant weight.”

Chastain and Mia Hamm (back) wave to the fans after winning the 1999 World Cup. (Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

The public didn’t always get to see the team as people first, but merely what they represented to the larger cause. “The patchwork that made up the quilt, I think, is really phenomenal,” Chastain says. “We had such a wonderful array of people, and we loved each other. And we competed hard.”

The fight for relevance and equal pay took a toll on the whole group, and the marked progress this year comes with a mixture of gratitude and exhaustion. In a way, this year’s CBA marked both the long-anticipated closing of a chapter and the ushering in of a new era that will present its own challenges.

“I’ve said many times that I will have the conversation, and I’m happy to have the conversation about equal pay,” Chastain says. “I will keep fighting and keep working and keep talking about it, but it’s exhausting.”

Watching the USWNT’s youth movement blossom after the Tokyo Olympics last summer, Chastain has the perspective of both a former player and a current coach. She has been a volunteer assistant coach for the Santa Clara Broncos, her alma mater, since 2010. Chastain’s husband, Jerry Smith, has run the women’s soccer program since 1987. Her experience on the other side of the equation has allowed her to evaluate the team with the same gentle but firm approach she got from her own coaches.

Chastain eschews the binary of old school versus new school (“I’d like to understand the definition of a modern player,” she says with a smile), but she sees conversations about technology, outside expectations and player approaches as part of the natural evolution. While no one wants to go back to the days when women’s soccer teams had to fight for facilities, staffing and other basic support structures, Chastain hopes that a level of discipline remains. Moving goals, setting up cones, working toward something bigger as a team — she doesn’t want that element to disappear even as the sport evolves.

“I feel like I want the players to feel the ownership piece forever, not [just] for this team, but forever, because they own it,” Chastain says of the USWNT. “They’re a part of the legacy of women’s soccer, and they have to own that.”

Chastain was in attendance for the USWNT's victory over Canada in Monday's Concacaf final. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The external pressures on young players are mounting at the highest levels, as social media and name, image and likeness opportunities turn athletes into small businesses long before they even graduate college. With progress come expectations, Chastain says, and it’s all about how you meet the moment mentally.

“External forces can really create chaos, and they can create problems if the group or the people are not prepared to handle them,” she says, underlining the need for strong veteran leadership to help maintain a culture that feeds on a desire for progress.

On the field, Chastain has enjoyed the increased emphasis on versatility. She’s a big fan of rising USWNT star Catarina Macario’s game, and how she both manipulates pressure from opponents and creates chances with her elite skills on and off the ball.

As the global talent pool deepens with each major tournament cycle, Chastain respects the difficult roster balance the current team is trying to strike. Having traveled to Monterrey, Mexico to watch the U.S. win the Concacaf championship Monday night in person, she recognizes how much work the USWNT has to do between now and the 2023 World Cup.

“It’s not an easy process,” Chastain says. “Just trying to decide what pathway to finding out who the best, most cohesive unit is, is not easy. I listen to the comments and I have my own, too. I just know how difficult it is.”

The sport has changed in obvious ways since her playing days, becoming both faster and more technical. Chastain would have relished the opportunity to play that style in her prime. She references the four moments of soccer — when a team is in possession, losing possession, out of possession or regaining possession.

“Modern players [are] asked to be all things in all four moments of the game, really being asked for defenders to be attackers, attackers to be defenders, and in transition, we all have to be both of those things,” she says. “I would have liked to have been challenged to do a little bit more, maybe have our team be a little bit more sophisticated in that way.”

Chastain, 53, sees the tactical aspect of coaching as the next step forward, as access to different styles has never been easier to obtain.

Her affinity for quick adjustments on the pitch echoes her guidance for the USWNT as they continue to push for progress off the field. While the team has achieved major wins in recent years, she’s keenly aware of how quickly things can slip backwards if you let your guard down.

“If you look at the state of the world, you don’t get too close to anything. Because if you get too comfortable, the next thing you know, someone’s trying to pull the rug out from under you,” Chastain says.

“It’s like in a game, you make a play, you don’t get to spend time thinking about that play — good or bad. You have to move forward, and you have to be ready for the next play.”

Perhaps it makes sense then that there’s no young player Chastain is harder on than her former self. With the hindsight of years of work paying off, and many of them in anonymity, she wishes she had known from the very beginning that she, with the same fierceness of her triumphant World Cup celebration, was up for the challenge. She hopes this next generation of players have the desire to overcome their own fears, too.

“Now I look back, and I’m like, ‘God, you were so soft, Brandi. It wasn’t that hard. It was challenging, but if you had just told yourself from the beginning, when you were scared, that you could do it — yeah, you would have been fine.’”

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of the Just Women’s Sports inaugural Legends Collection. Check out our stories on the other legends, Sheryl Swoopes and Billie Jean King.

Claire Watkins is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering soccer and the NWSL. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.