How brilliant is Marta?
Friday, April 7, 2017
Considered one of the world's top women players since her teenage breakthrough in 2004 and showing no signs of fading, we salute brilliant Brazilian Marta.
Article top media content
Marta has been at the top of women's football for so long it is hard to think she only recently turned 31.
FIFA Women's World Player of the Year five times running between 2006 and 2010, and in the top three on six other occasions, the Brazil forward has established herself as perhaps the marquee name in the female game, with a collection of club and individual honours. After leaving Rosengård for Orlando Pride, we profile the brilliant Brazilian.
What they say
"With her speed and technique, she could do anything she wanted on the field. I wanted to be like her but of course I didn't have all the same attributes. It's like a men's player wanting to be like Messi – you can't copy someone like that."
Sofia Jakobsson, former Umeå team-mate
"I've noticed that if a defender 'gives' Marta one side, she explodes past them right through it. How do you say 'see ya sucker!' in Portuguese?"
Christen Press, former Tyresö team-mate
"She brings so much passion to the game. So much enthusiasm. And I think her team-mates thrive off that passion."
Hope Solo, United States goalkeeper
"I never saw Pelé but I have seen Marta."
Banner at 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro
International: 115 appearances, 106 goals
UEFA club competition: 56 appearances, 46 goals
Domestic competion: 301 appearances, 245 goals
Claims to fame
• Discovered aged 14, Marta played for Vasco da Gama and Santa Cruz before moving to northern Sweden in early 2004.
• Barely a month after her 18th birthday, Marta made her European debut for Umeå against Brøndby in the UEFA Women's Cup semi-finals and scored in both legs.
• Marta upped her game in the final with two goals at home and one away as Umeå dispatched FFC Frankfurt 8-0 on aggregate.
• Her exploits helped Umeå win the 2005 and 2006 Swedish leagues undefeated, retaining the title in 2007 and 2008. She was league top scorer in 2004, 2005 and 2008.
• Also fired Umeå to the 2007 and 2008 UEFA Women's Cup finals, though they lost to Arsenal and Frankfurt respectively.
• When earning her fourth straight FIFA player award in 2009, Marta announced she had agreed to join Los Angeles Sol in the new American professional league. She was league top scorer but Sol lost the championship decider.
• After a winter in Brazil helping Santos lift the Copa Libertadores and Brazilian Cup, Marta returned to the US with FC Gold Pride, leading them to the title while again top-scoring.
• Marta's third American season was at Western New York Flash – once again she was top scorer and league champion.
• With the US league folding, Marta repaired to Sweden with ambitious Tyresö. In her first term they won the Damallsvenskan with a 1-0 final-day victory at LdB Malmö, the predecessor club to Rosengård.
• That secured a UEFA Women's Champions League debut and they proceeded all the way to the 2014 final, losing 4-3 to Wolfsburg despite Marta's brace.
• Tyresö's financial collapse following that final prompted Marta to join Rosengård, whom she aided to Swedish titles in 2014 and 2015.
• Their UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona is their third in a row in Marta's time. After defeat she joined Orlando Pride.
• Marta made her senior Brazil debut in 2002 aged 16; in underage teams she claimed the Golden Ball as MVP at the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.
• Marta shot Brazil to the final of the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup (top-scoring and being voted player of the tournament) and also collected 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medals. Additionally she helped her country win South American titles in 2003 and 2010 as well as 2003 and 2007 Pan American Games gold, converting two penalties in a 5-0 final triumph over the US in the latter tournament.
• At her fourth World Cup in 2015 Marta became the competition's all-time leading scorer on 15 goals. That year she also overtook Pelé as Brazil's all-time top international goalscorer.
What you might not know
• Her move to Umeå was delayed as they spent two months after the 2003 World Cup trying to contact her, not realising Marta had no phone.
• Marta was one of six 2014 FIFA World Cup ambassadors along with Amarildo, Bebeto, Carlos Alberto Torres, Ronaldo and Mario Zagallo, and two years later carried the Olympic flag at the Rio Games.
• She is also a United National Development Programme (UNDP) goodwill ambassador and played in the 2007 UNDP Match against Poverty masterminded by Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane, the first woman to feature in an officially-sanctioned international men's football match.
• Earlier this month, Marta became a Swedish citizen though she will continue to play for Brazil.
What she says
"When I started playing, there were no teams and no structure, so I had to play with the boys. I get very emotional when I think about the humiliation I've suffered playing football. They would insult me. Sometimes I'd try to fight them. I might have been small but I was a tough little girl. I would get angry and let fly."
"I went from 35C every day in Brazil to a place where it reaches -22C in the winter [Umea]. But my life has always been about breaking barriers. I saw everything as a challenge."
"The focus of football has always been Europe, it's always been the Champions League, it's always been the European leagues. And that's kept the women's game growing. As I said, the glamour of the Champions League, the whole atmosphere around it, means every player wants to play in it."
What she might achieve yet
• As proved by the hype around her during the 2016 Olympics, when she was compared favourably to Brazil's other No10 Neymar (some fans crossed out the Barcelona man's name on their shirts and replaced it with Marta's), she remains the talisman for her national team and will surely lead the line again at the 2019 World Cup in France. Marta has not missed a minute of any Brazil match in the previous four World Cups in which she has played.