In the world of football, Marta Vieira da Silva, the illustrious Brazilian forward, is a beacon of excellence. Born on February 19, 1986, in the small town of Dois Riachos, Alagoas, Brazil, Marta's prodigious talents have cemented her place among the sport's pantheon.
Her sterling career speaks volumes: the most goals scored by a Brazilian in international competition (encompassing both men and women), the highest tally in World Cup history (again, regardless of gender), and an unparalleled six-time recipient of the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Marta's journey to footballing immortality began in 2000 when she signed for Brazilian side, Vasco da Gama. After four years, she swapped the familiarity of Brazil for the chilly climes of Sweden, donning the colours of Umeå IK. This move marked the genesis of Marta's legendary status, as she netted a staggering 111 goals in 103 appearances, simultaneously clinching four of her six FIFA World Player of the Year awards.
In 2009, on the very day she secured her fourth consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year award, the news broke: Marta was crossing the Atlantic to join the Los Angeles Sol for the inaugural season of Women's Professional Soccer. This marked the beginning of a five-year American chapter, interspersed with brief sojourns back to Santos in her home country. A return to Sweden followed, with successful spells at Tyresö FF and FC Rosengård, before she found her current home at Orlando Pride in 2017.
Dressed in the iconic canary yellow of Brazil's Seleção, Marta has habitually shattered expectations and records. The first significant milestone occurred on July 26, 2007, when she inspired the Brazilian women's team to triumph over the US Under 20s national team in the Pan American Games. This performance earned her the nickname "Pelé with skirts", an ode to her remarkable abilities. Subsequently, she carved her name into history by becoming the first woman to immortalise her footprints at the legendary Estádio do Maracanã.
The 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup provided another stage for Marta to showcase her talent, scoring seven goals and earning both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot. Although Brazil fell to Germany in the Final, Marta's performance was unforgettable. In 2008, she secured an Olympic silver medal, a feat she would repeat in 2012. Marta's record-breaking exploits continued unabated, becoming the all-time leading goal scorer in Women's World Cup history during the 2011 edition.
A standout moment came in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, where she became the first player to score in five separate World Cup tournaments. Her impassioned plea for the recognition and appreciation of women's football following Brazil's Round of 16 exit resonated globally, further enhancing her popularity.
The 2021 Olympics saw Marta yet again set a precedent, becoming the first player to score in five consecutive Olympic games. However, despite her personal accolades, a major tournament win with Brazil still eludes her. Her best team performances remain the two Olympic silver medals and a runner-up finish in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
As the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup approaches, Marta, still performing at an elite level, has her eyes set on the one accolade missing from her glittering career. Will this competition complete her storied resume?
Football fans worldwide are likely to lend their support to Brazil, cheering Marta on in her pursuit of this elusive glory. Even as a neutral, you can't help but hope that this legend of the game finally gets her hands on that coveted World Cup trophy.