Published: Feb 10, 11:47a ET
Updated: Feb 10, 11:58a ET

Alex Morgan poses in body paint for Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue

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Already one of the darlings of the U.S. women's national soccer team, Alex Morgan is about to work her way into the hearts of even more young men this Valentine's Day.

The 22-year-old wunderkind with the nose for goal and supermodel good looks will be featured in the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, set to hit newsstands on Feb. 14. Morgan posed for the magazine in nothing but a body paint bikini, one of three athletes to take part in a body paint pictorial for the magazine's annual most popular edition.

"Initially I was a little nervous, but this opportunity doesn't come everyday," Morgan told about posing for the magazine. "I wanted to involve my family with my decision and it helped that they were very supportive."

Known for a generally steely demeanor on the pitch, Morgan found the prospect of posing in nothing but body paint a bit more daunting than battling defenders and 'keepers.

"I have been playing soccer my entire life. I know how to stay calm and not get too nervous for games. That's why I would have to say posing in body paint was a little more intimidating," Morgan told "It was a completely new experience and definitely took some getting used to before I felt comfortable in body paint. I had to look in the mirror every five minutes to make sure I actually had a swimsuit on."

Morgan rose to fame as part of the U.S. women's side that captured the nation's attention in the 2011 World Cup before falling to Japan on penalty kicks in the final. Morgan served as a super sub, scoring two goals in the tournament -- the first putting the exclamation point on a 3-1 semifinal victory over France, the second giving the U.S. a brief second-half lead over Japan in the final. She also assisted on Abby Wambach's extra-time goal that gave the Americans their second lead in the final.

The California native is coming off another quality tournament at the 2012 CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver last month. Morgan helped the U.S. secure a berth in London, scoring a second-half goal in the Olympic-clinching semifinal win over Costa Rica, then registering two goals and two assists while making her first start with the national team in the final against Canada.

Morgan and her signature pink headband are expected to be on display again at the Olympic Games in London, where she'll hope to help the U.S. women to their third consecutive gold medal.

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