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FIFA World Cup

Opinion: Top 5 World's Best Female Players Of All Time (Photos)

1. Marta, Brazil

Marta Vieira da Silva, born February 19, 1986, is a Brazilian female soccer player who is widely considered as the best female football player of all time. Marta was a six-time winner of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association World Player of the Year award.

Prevented from playing football with her male peers because of her gender, Marta began honing her skills as a young girl by kicking abandoned deflated footballs and improvised balls made up of wadded grocery bags through the streets of her small town. She eventually joined a local boys’ junior team, for which she was playing when she was discovered at age 14 by a scout from Vasco da Gama, a renowned men’s football club in Rio de Janeiro that was looking to begin a women’s team. Thereafter she played on women’s teams, beginning with Vasco, until it folded a few years later, and then with Santa Cruz in Brazil before joining Sweden’s Umeå IK in 2004.

Marta first gained widespread notice during her time with Umeå, which she led to the 2004 Union of European Football Associations Women’s Cup title and helped to reach the finals in that competition in 2007 and 2008. Marta also helped Umeå capture four consecutive Damallsvenskan championships between 2005 and 2008, as well as a Swedish Cup title in 2007. Marta scored a remarkable 111 goals in 103 league games during her five seasons with Umeå as she led the league in goals over three seasons. She left Europe in 2009 to sign with the Los Angeles Sol of Women’s Professional Soccer. Marta was named WPS Most Valuable Player in 2009, but the struggling Los Angeles franchise folded, and she moved within the WPS to join the FC Gold Pride of Santa Clara, California. She led the Gold Pride to a WPS title in 2010, and she won a second WPS championship in 2011 as a member of the Western New York Flash. During the WPS offseasons in 2009 and 2010, Marta played with Santos FC in her home country. When the WPS suspended operations in 2012, Marta returned to Sweden as a member of Tyresö FF. She moved to FC Rosengård in 2014. Three years later she joined the Orlando Pride of the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League.

Marta established herself as the best female footballer of her generation primarily through her feats as a member of the Brazilian women’s national team. She made her international football debut in 2002 as a member of Brazil’s under-20 Women’s World Cup team. The following year she joined the senior national squad and scored three goals at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where Brazil was eliminated in the quarterfinals. At the 2007 Women’s World Cup, she won the Golden Boot by scoring seven goals during the tournament and led Brazil to a second-place finish. In 2011 Marta increased her career Cup goal tally to 14, which tied Germany’s Birgit Prinz for most Women’s World Cup goals of all time, but the Brazilian national team was again eliminated in the Cup quarterfinals. She scored her 15th Cup goal in 2015 on a penalty kick against South Korea to set a new record for Women’s World Cup scoring. At the 2019 Women’s World Cup, she scored her 17th World Cup goal, making her the all-time World Cup goal scorer in both men’s and women’s competitions.

2. Mia Hamm, USA

Mariel Margaret Hamm, born March 17, 1972, is an American retired professional soccer player, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and two-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion.

One of the best female football players of all time, Mia Hamm is possibly the best-known American football player, male or female. In her career, she played an amazing 275 matches for the US national team, scoring no less than 158 goals. She has played in three Olympic Games, winning the inaugural women’s football title in 1996, being runner-up in 2000, and winning again in her final tournament in Athens 2004. Hamm also played in four World Cups, winning the first Women’s Cup in 1991 as well as the 1999 edition, while finishing third in 1995 and 2003. She was named FIFA Female Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002, Hamm also was co-founder of Women’s United Soccer Association, the first women’s pro league in the world, in which she played for Washington Freedom. It folded in 2003, but successor Women’s Professional Soccer features a silhouette of Hamm in its logo, indicating her significance for the women’s game.

3. Michelle Anne Akers, USA

Michelle Anne Akers, born February 1, 1966, is an American former soccer player, who starred in the historic 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup victories by the United States. She won the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the 1991 tournament. Akers is regarded as one of the best female soccer players of all time. She was named FIFA Female Player of the Century in 2002, an award she shared with China's Sun Wen. In 2004, Akers and Mia Hamm were the only two women named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players selected by Pelé and commissioned by FIFA for that organization's 100th anniversary. Akers is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame; she was inducted in 2004, along with Paul Caligiuri and Eric Wynalda.

Akers was a member of the 1985 United States women's national soccer team for its first game at a tournament in Italy in August 1985. Due to an ankle injury, she did not play in the first game. However, in the second ever international game for the United States she scored the first goal in the history of the program against Denmark. Akers scored 15 goals in 24 games for the U.S. from 1985 to 1990 before scoring a team record 39 goals in 26 games in the 1991 season alone. In 1990 and 1991, she was named the United States Soccer Federation Female Athlete of the Year. Akers was also the lead scorer in the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup in China in 1991, scoring ten goals, including five in one game. This led the U.S. women's team to the first women's world championship, defeating Norway 2–1. Akers scored both goals in the finals.

Utterly exhausted after the World Cup, Akers was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome in the spring of 1994 which could have started in late 1991 and of which she never fully recovered. She learned to manage her diet and training habits, and was shifted to the midfield in part to minimize the beatings doled out by opposing defenders. Despite the precautions, Akers suffered a concussion and a knee injury early in the 1995 World Cup, and was hampered by the knee in a semifinal loss to Norway. In 1996, Akers was again a member of the U.S. women's national team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where it won the gold medal. She was also a member of the gold-medal-winning, 1998 Goodwill Games team. On June 7, 1998, she was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit, their highest honor, for her contributions to the game of soccer. Akers again was part of the 1999 Women's World Cup team, leading to a second World Cup championship. Shortly before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Akers retired from the game as the U.S. national team's second all-time leading scorer with 105 goals, 37 assists and 247 points. Michelle Akers competed as a member of USA teams in three FIFA Women's World Cup:

From 1990 to 1995, she was married to former professional soccer player Roby Stahl, and during this time, was known as Michelle Akers-Stahl. She currently lives with her husband Steve Eichenblatt, an attorney who represented her in her rehabilitation lawsuits against the USSF after her retirement, and their son Cody, who was born in 2005 in Orlando, Florida. Akers now resides in Powder Springs, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, and dedicates herself to rescuing horses. Since her retirement, she has continued to promote the game of soccer and has written several books, including one that documents her battle with chronic fatigue syndrome.

4. Birgit Prinz, Germany

Birgit Prinz, born 25 October 1977, is a retired German female professional association football player. Prinz remains one of the game’s most prolific strikers and is the second FIFA Women’s World Cup all-time leading scorer with 14 goals, second only to Marta from Brazil.

She was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005. On 12 August 2011, she announced the end of her active career. She currently works as a sport psychologist for the male and female teams of Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. Prinz began her career at SV Dörnigheim FC. She made her Bundesliga debut for FSV Frankfurt, where she played from 1993 to 1998. During that time Prinz won two Bundesliga titles and two German Cups. In 1997 and 1998 she was the Bundesliga top scorer. In 1998, she moved to local rivals 1. FFC Frankfurt, where she has had her biggest success at club level. In 13 seasons at the club, Prinz won six Bundesliga and eight German Cup titles. She also won the Bundesliga top-scorer award twice more in 2001 and 2007. Prinz won the UEFA Women’s Cup three times with Frankfurt.

For two seasons, Prinz joined Carolina Courage in the professional women’s league WUSA in the United States. During her short stint in America she claimed the 2002 WUSA Championship. After the 2003 World Cup, Prinz declined an offer from AC Perugia to play in Italy’s men’s Serie A, fearing her transfer would be used as a publicity stunt and she would end up on the bench. In her time at FFC Frankfurt, Prinz won many personal awards, including a record eight German Female Footballer of the Year awards from 2001 to 2008. She was named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005. For four consecutive years from 2007 to 2010 she came second, behind Brazil’s Marta.

At the age of 16, Prinz made her debut for Germany’s national team in July 1994 against Canada. She came on after 72 minutes and scored the game-winner in the 89th minute. One year later, she won her first major title at the 1995 European Championship, scoring in the final. In the same year, she was names to Germany’s squad for the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where they lost to Norway in the final match. She remains the youngest player ever to appear in a World Cup Final. For the next decade, Prinz had one of the most successful international careers in women’s football. She won four more UEFA European Championships in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009. At the Summer Olympics she won bronze three times with the German team, in 2000, 2004 and 2008. At the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Prinz helped Germany win its first World Cup title in the women’s game. She was honoured as the tournament’s best player and top-scorer. Prinz became the women’s national team captain at the end of 2003, and remained until her retirement. Four years later, at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she captained the team to Germany’s second World Cup title. She was awarded the Silver Ball as the second-best player at the tournament. Prinz holds several national and international records. With 14 goals, she is the second all-time leading goalscorer at FIFA Women’s World Cups. From 2008 until 2012, Prinz and Brazil’s Cristiane both held the tournament record of 10 goals at the Summer Olympics, although Cristiane has now surpassed Prinz. For the German national team Prinz appeared 214 times and scored 128 goals. She is the team’s most capped player and top goalscorer, and is also the most capped non-American player in the sport.

5. Sun Wen, China

Sun Wen is a retired Chinese professional football player. Previously, she was the captain of the Chinese national football team of women and Atlanta beat womens soccer Association organization. In 2000, she won the championship player of the century along with Michelle Akers. The sun won both the Golden ball for best player and Golden boot top scorer for his performance in the 1999 championship of the women in the world. It is one of the all-time greats in the womens game.

The sun began to play football at the age of about ten. Her father, the Sun Zonggao, was a recreational player who took the Sun with him to watch the matches in the Chinese mens League. Sun credits his influence on her foray into the sport. Sun studied Chinese literature at Shanghai normal University.

The sun appeared on the China national team at age 17 and went on to appear in four tournaments of the world championship for women China and became one of three women to play all Chinas 15 matches in three world Cup matches. In 1999, she had 10 goals in her world Cup career, leaving her tied for second on all-time win list. The sun helped the team to win the Asian Cup in 1991, 1993, 1995 and 1997. Sun led China to a silver medal at the summer Olympic games of 1996 in Athens, Georgia. In 1999 FIFA womens world Cup, the Sun scored seven goals and received the Golden ball for best player and Golden boot top scorer in the tournament. She returned to the team of Chinese women from two-Year retirement on December 15, 2005. Due to injuries, the Sun again resigned after winning the AFC Asian Cup women in 2006. The sun played 28 matches and scored 16 goals in 4 world Cup tournaments and the Olympic games. Sun Wen, with her Chinese team, won a silver medal at the Olympic games in Atlanta in 1996, and finished second in the USA 1999 world Cup. Strong striker with great skills and passing abilities, Sun won both the Golden boot award, which she shared with Sissi, of Brazil and the Golden ball for the 1999 womens world Cup and became the first woman to be nominated for the Asian football Confederations best player of the year. In 2002, she received the award FIFA the Internet FIFA player of the century voting. While the overall award was won by the American Michelle Akers, the Sun received the most online votes in FIFAs website.

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Brazilian Marta Marta Vieira da Silva Rio de Janeiro Vasco


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