Ten years on from inspiring Umeå IK to a sensational 8-0 aggregate UEFA Women's Cup final win against 1. FFC Frankfurt, Marta is hoping for another European title for a Swedish club against German opposition.
This time Marta, on losing Umeå sides in 2007 and 2008, is leading the line for Tyresö FF in the rebranded UEFA Women's Champions League final against VfL Wolfsburg in Lisbon on Thursday. The 28-year-old Brazil forward spoke to UEFA.com about the chance for another title, the motivation in the squad after Tyresö's financial problems and why they are facing "the best team in the world".
UEFA.com: What does it mean to reach the final again?
Marta: As sportspeople, we like to compete at a high level. It's another opportunity in our careers, to be competing in the biggest club tournament in women's football. The Champions League is one of the tournaments that any top-level athlete dreams of playing in, winning, or trying to get as far as possible in. We are very happy to have reached the final and, of course, we are going to do all we can to try and bring the trophy home with us.
We battled so hard to reach this final. We are really motivated. I have never thought so much about one thing. Right now, I am focused on the Champions League. Of course, we have games in the Swedish league, we have other demands. But everything revolves around the Champions League.
Without doubt it is an honour, a great privilege, to be able to return to this moment once again. I experienced this opportunity when I was 18, with Umeå, my first club in Sweden. We managed to win at that time. Today, ten years later, I have the same opportunity with a different team, to continue making history in women's football.
UEFA.com: Was it the dream of making this final that was the priority for the squad?
Marta: Without a doubt. I have been dreaming of this for a long time, ever since the first year I came here, to Tyresö. We brought many footballers together, and they all had the same ambition. They want to win.
UEFA.com: It wasn't easy in the semi-finals against Birmingham City LFC?
Marta: The game in Birmingham, in England, was certainly a difficult game. We knew that Birmingham were a team that were also new to the competition, but they had beaten Arsenal who have a great history. So we knew it would be difficult. The first game was away and there was a lot of excitement in their team. We didn't manage to score the necessary amount of goals there, but we felt that we were better throughout the whole game. So in a way that relaxed us when we played the second game at home.
The team have had to face various situations, both on and off the pitch. And I think that everything that is happening with the team, off the pitch, is something that, in a way, motivates us more and more. Because it is a situation that we, as sportspeople, have never experienced. But we are now in the present and we are learning to deal with it, in a very positive way.
We speak a lot among ourselves. We try to ensure the group always stay positive, believe in themselves, and show that this competition – this potential victory in the Champions League – could be fantastic and vindicate the work we have put in since 2012. Then, if we do win, God willing, we will definitely be happy that our hard work has paid off and we have sealed the victory.
UEFA.com: What can we expect from this final in Lisbon?
Marta: It will be a great game, without a doubt. We are going to be playing against the best team in the world – the current Champions League holders, a difficult team to face because many high-level players play for them. German teams have a great tradition of reaching Champions League finals and winning. It will be a great game against the best team. But on the other hand, we have a great team. We are motivated, we really believe, and we want to leave our mark on the history of European football.
UEFA.com: How important has playing in Sweden been for your career?
Marta: It's been very important, really important, because I came to Sweden when I was 17. I turned 18 a few weeks later and we already had the Champions League competition to get stuck into.
I arrived with a certain promise but it wasn't a case that the team had signed a player with a great reputation – no, it was a gamble on Umeå's part. So I was super-motivated to show what I could do. Many people didn't believe that I would excel, they said: "Oh, she's really young, really thin, really weak – here in Sweden football is very physical, as in the whole of Europe." There were plenty of doubts, but I had no doubts, nor did the president of the club. He signed me up, so 2004 was a fantastic year, a year when I had the opportunity to show what I really wanted from life.
UEFA.com: How would the feeling of victory this time differ from 2004?
Marta: With this team, the sensation will undoubtedly be different, because we don't have the same roots: we're a new team who haven't played together for a long time like Umeå had. We don't have the same tradition that Umeå have had. So it's different. The sensation will be that of a job that has been done, we've worked together for all this time, and finally we'll have achieved our objective. We'll take it with us for the rest of our lives, regardless of whether we stay on here or not.
UEFA.com: You've been FIFA Women's World Player of the Year five times, how would you evaluate the quality of this Tyresö team?
Marta: The quality is very high, we have players who can, in two or three minutes, in the final minute of the game, decide a match. We have high-quality players, from different countries, different cultures, but who when they go out on the pitch play together in unison, with just one objective, and that's how we do well in general.
We have excellent goalkeepers, excellent defenders and midfielders, then Verónica [Boquete], [Caroline] Seger, Lisa Dahlkvist – who for me is one of the best defensive midfield players, she's fantastic. You could say she's the heartbeat of our team, she's the key player in midfield who really levers the team, and up front we have players like Christen Press who improvises, who can score goals out of nothing, fantastic goals.
UEFA.com: How would you describe your role in the team, and the style and philosophy of coach Tony Gustavsson?
Marta: I'm just another player for our team, for our group, with the same objective and the same desire as the rest. Every player has their own special facets – I'm more of a player who will grab the ball up front and try to forge a good pass, to set up my team-mates or do something unexpected, which many people put down as a Brazilian trait. I've done this many times for the Brazilian national team and for all of the teams I've played for, and try to put it into practice for Tyresö. The idea is that we have a game plan instilled in us by Tony, but often games don't pan out as you expect. So sometimes the time is right to improvise and try something different, and that's where my role comes in.
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