FAREWELL MARTABRAZIL SAYS GOODBYE TO A LEGEND AFTER SIX WORLD CUP APPEARANCES© UN Women/Ryan BrownAuthor: John AliuThere are very few players in women’s football as legendary as Marta Vieira da Silva, simply known as Marta. Throughout her illustrious career, the Brazilian legend left an indelible mark on the sport and when the stakes were high, she consistently delivered with skill, determination and leadership. Although Marta’s career was never just about goals, it was the absence of one against Jamaica at the end that closed the book on her magnificent FIFA World Cup career. It was an outcome she never imagined, but her story cannot be defined by a single game.
The Early Years:
Born in Brazil, Marta’s football journey began in humble surroundings. She grew up playing barefoot in the streets of Dois Riachos, Alagoas, where her natural talent caught the attention of local coaches. At the age of 14, she joined a local club, Centro Sportivo Alagoano, and it was evident from the start that she possessed a rare gift for the sport. Marta’s mesmerizing dribbling skills, impeccable vision and lethal finishing ability made her stand out among her peers.
Rise to International Stardom:
Marta’s international career took off when she made her debut for the Brazilian national team in 2002. Her impact was immediate and she quickly became the driving force behind the team’s success. Her ability to change the course of a game single-handedly earned her the nickname “Pelé in skirts.” In fact, Pelé himself agreed with the comparison! With Marta leading the charge, Brazil’s women’s team began to challenge the world’s football powerhouses and captured the hearts of football fans worldwide.
Crucial Performances on the Grand Stage:
One of the defining moments in her career came during the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. With Brazil facing the United States in the semi-final, Marta delivered a breathtaking performance that showcased her mastery of the game. She scored an astonishing goal that left spectators in awe, but it was her overall influence on the match that solidified her status as a true match-winner. Despite Brazil eventually losing in the final to Germany, Marta’s brilliance on the world stage left an enduring impression. She finished the 2007 Women’s World Cup as the winner of both the Golden Ball as the top individual player and the Golden Boot as the competition’s top scorer with seven goals.

Marta’s excellence continued in subsequent World Cups and Olympic Games, where she consistently rose to the occasion. In the 2011 World Cup, she led Brazil to the quarter-finals, displaying her trademark flair and poise and finishing the tournament with four goals. Despite falling short, Marta’s performances garnered admiration and respect from fellow players and opponents alike.

During her fourth World Cup in 2015, Marta became the all-time top scorer of the women’s tournament with 15 goals. During the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she became the first player, male or female, to score at five FIFA World Cup tournaments when she scored a penalty against Australia in Brazil’s second group game. In the next match, she scored another penalty, this time against Italy, to become the outright leading goal scorer, male or female, at the World Cup with 17 goals in total.

A Legacy of Excellence:
Marta’s unparalleled achievements have earned her a multitude of accolades, including numerous individual awards and records. Apart from holding the record for the most World Cup goals scored, she has won six FIFA World Player of the Year awards and two Olympic silver medals - a testament to her scoring prowess and longevity at the highest level.

Beyond her playing abilities, Marta’s leadership and advocacy for women’s football have been equally influential. She has been a vocal advocate for gender equality in sports and a role model for aspiring female athletes worldwide. Her influence extends far beyond the pitch, and she has become a symbol of empowerment and inspiration for women everywhere.

Final World Cup outing:
Brazil began the tournament in rampant fashion, thanks to a 4-0 victory over Panama. But it all went downhill from there as they lost 2-1 against France and registered a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Jamaica in their third and final game. These results meant that France and Jamaica progressed to the Round of 16, while Brazil was eliminated from the group stages for the first time since 1995.
© latimes.comSome Magical Marta Numbers1.Golden Boot award at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (2007) as the top goal-scorer of the tournament.
1.Golden Ball award at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (2007) for being the best player of the tournament.
3.Copa America Femenina title with Brazil (2003, 2010 and 2018).
3.FIFA Women's World Cup Runner-up (2007).
4.Olympic Games Silver medals won with Brazil (2004 and 2008).
5.Olympic Games appearances for Brazil (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2021). She is also the first female footballer to score at five consecutive Olympic Games.
6.FIFA World Player of the Year Awards, the most in history, five of them being consecutive (from 2006 through 2010) and the latest award coming in 2018.17.Goals scored in FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments, making her the all-time leading goal-scorer in World Cup history.115.International goals for Brazil, making her the top goal-scorer in the history of the Brazilian women's national team.
Twenty years ago, no one knew her name when she made her first appearance at the FIFA World Cup. This time, as she bids farewell, everyone does with fond memories. Having won virtually every individual award in women’s football, there exists a major gap in the glittering resume of Marta’s 23-year career - a World Cup title and Brazil’s wait for a first one goes on.