POSTED: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 12:04pm
CNN Staff — When a 21-year-old Abby Wambach made her debut for the United States on September 9, 2001, Mia Hamm scored twice in a 4-1 win over Germany.
Twelve years later, aged 33, Wambach grabbed four first-half goals in a 5-0 win over South Korea to overtake Hamm as the leading scorer in women's international soccer history.
Wambach equaled Hamm's record of 158 with her second goal after just 19 minutes of Thursday's friendly game at New Jersey's Red Bull Arena before adding two more to stand alone in the record books with 160 international goals -- the most by any male or female player.
"It's surreal," Wambach told U.S. Soccer's official website. "I'm so thankful and my teammates were trying to get me those goals.
"I can't thank them enough. As a competitor you want to be done with the things that put me at the forefront of conversations. This team is too good to be talking about one person."
She added on her Twitter page: "Let me just say thank you to Mia Hamm for giving me something to chase, and to the fans for cheering me along the way. A special night."
Hamm had earlier congratulated Wambach on her achievement.
The New York native reached the landmark figure in 207 games, while Hamm scored her total in 275 international matches before retiring in 2004.
"So proud of you, my friend. You are a warrior and true champion. Enjoy this," the 41-year-old tweeted.
Wambach was part of the U.S. squads which won gold at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games, scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over Brazil in the gold medal match in Athens nine years ago.
She has also represented her country at three World Cups, helping the Americans to finish third on home soil in 2003 before repeating the feat in China four years later.
At the 2011 tournament in Germany, Wambach scored an extra-time goal to put the U.S. 2-1 up in the final against Japan.
Japan equalized to force a penalty shootout, which it won 4-1 -- with Wambach the only U.S. player to score her spot kick.