The soccer superstar gets real about her insecurities, what drives her to succeed, and why she loves to be the underdog.

By Anthea Levi
Updated September 26, 2016
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If anyone knows the meaning of perseverance, it’s Carli Lloyd. In her new memoir, When Nobody Was Watching: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World ($26;, the FIFA World Player of the Year candidly shares the struggles and setbacks she's faced in her career.

In case you missed it, Lloyd is the phenom who scored a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the 2015 World Cup final, which ended with a 5-2 victory over Japan. But the midfielder from New Jersey wasn't always such a star. After she was cut from the U-21 national team in 2003 (the coach told her she wasn't "national team material"), Lloyd considered quitting the sport for good.

Since then, Lloyd—now the U.S. team captain and a two-time Olympic gold medalist—has learned a thing or two about the determination and grit it takes to chase your dreams. Here, five quotes from her book that will inspire you to be your best, even when nobody's watching.

On fighting self-doubt

“I am a bit of a strange mix in the self-belief department. I have an almost unshakable faith in my ability to come through when it matters most and prevail no matter what the odds. But that faith exists side by side with a stubborn, lifelong penchant for demanding perfection of myself and for beating up on myself when I fall short of it. The result is that it is dangerously easy for me to hold on to mistakes, keeping them alive in an endless loop of self-criticism.”

On pursuing progress—always

“I want to keep getting better and better. I don’t want to be satisfied, ever. That may sound grim, but it isn’t at all. It is joyful, because the pursuit of progress is joyful. Playing the game I love is joyful. So I keep pushing, keep working.”

On staying true to yourself

“A number of prominent athletes—soccer players among them—have been featured in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and other publications. It is not a decision I am judging in any way. To each her own. I’m sure they feel proud of their bodies and see no reason not to show them off. It’s just not for me. I want to be a role model, not a runway model. I want to be known for the body of work of my career. If that makes me old-fashioned or out of step with the times we live in, so be it. I’m always going to be true to how I feel.”

On being the underdog

“Now that my teammates and I are World Cup champions and I’ve been named FIFA’s Women’s Player of the Year, I’m not sure how I will continue to be an underdog. But trust me, I will find a way. Somebody will write that it was a fluke, or that I am over the hill, or that I just got really lucky in those opening 16 minutes against Japan. Or maybe it will be something else. What it is, I will find someone to prove wrong and then work my a** off to do just that.”

On achieving your #goals

“Life is complicated. Life is going to throw all kinds of obstacles in your way. All I can tell you is what works for me: be true to yourself, don’t do fake, and above all else, keep on working, because that’s what will take you where you want to go.”

Excerpted from WHEN NOBODY WAS WATCHING: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World by Carli Lloyd with Wayne Coffey. Copyright 2016 by LLC. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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