Comparison’s in football history are difficult, a lot has to be taken into consideration. From trophies won to the difficulty of teams played against, judging the greatest player of all time is a tremendously tough task. Many hours have been spent debating over Pele, Maradona, Messi and more, though when it comes to women’s football it isn’t that difficult. Asking “Who is the greatest female football player of all time?” will only get you a one word answer: Marta.
Marta – as good as Pele
Being referred to as “Pele with skirts” by the man himself is some high praise indeed, but Marta is deserving of it. The highest goalscorer for the Brazilian female team, Marta possesses all the attributes Pele had. Pace, skill and a deadly eye for goal combine to make her a goalscoring machine, terrorising defences in the Swedish league for FC Rosengård and with her nation Brazil.
Discovered at the age of 14, Marta played her first professional games for Brazilian big guns Vasco da Gama. Unfortunately for her this development would be short lived, as Vasco cut their women’s team in 2001. A solid two years at Santa Cruz followed, as Marta began to shine. Scoring 18 goals in 36 league games is a strong return for a 17 year old. Though the true skills of Marta were about to come to light.
Shining in Sweden
At Umeå IK Marta tasted glory instantly, after her first season she had won her first team honour, the UEFA Women’s Cup. Scoring 3 times over the two leg final, ending in a 8-0 aggregate demolition of Frankfurt. Marta was the only non Scandinavian player in the team as Umeå enjoyed a remarkable season. They narrowly missed out on the treble, finishing second in the league by one point and losing in the domestic cup final 2-1. Marta was the player to score that singular goal, just as she had scored 22 league goals in her debut season.
Arguably her second season was even stronger, storming the league as Umeå finished undefeated. Marta finished top scorer with 21 league goals, a feat she would repeat in the next season as Umeå again finished undefeated. Marta and Umeå’s dominance continued as they won the Damallsvenskan 4 years in a row between 2005 and 2008. This coincided with her phenomenal achievement of winning FIFA World Player of The Year 5 years in a row, as she slammed in 111 goals in 103 appearances for the Swedish side.
It would to be the last time Marta would spend a prolonged period of time at a club. Despite not particularly finding a home since then, the goals did not dry up at all. In her only season for Los Angeles Sol, Marta top scored in the league with ten goals. A three month loan to Santos also produced further trophies for the Brazilian, as she scored in both the Libertadores final and the Copa do Brasil victories. Los Angeles Sol then folded, leaving Marta as a free agent to join fellow American team FC Gold Pride. As usual with Marta, she lead them to the title while top scoring in the league. Winning MVP and the Golden Boot for the second year in the row, though it appeared it wasn’t meant to be in America as FC Gold Pride also folded to leave the striker without a club again.
Another loan to Santos followed, though this time the trophies did not. Western New York Flash picked up the third year of Marta’s previous FC Gold Pride contract as she returned to America once again. Unsurprisingly she helped them on to the league title as a third golden boot made its way into Marta’s hands. That’s what has followed Marta throughout her career, titles and goals. It’s frightening to look at how consistently she has brought glory to the clubs she has joined. In Marta, clubs get a one woman goal machine that boosts their chances at silverware by an unbelievable amount. This was again showed at her 2012 stint with Tyresö FF.
Tyresö FF had never won a title before Marta arrived back in the Damallsvenskan, that was soon to change. With a large contract being paid by external sponsors, Marta plundered 30 goals in 45 games at her time for the Swedish club.
Unfortunately financial difficulties occurred again, as all the Tyresö players were listed as free agents as the club went under. Marta made the d
omestic journey to FC Rosengård and will likely bring additional trophies to the club. Though her domestic goalscoring is outweighed by her continued heroics for her national side.
World Cup heroics
Making her Brazilian debut in 2002 as part of the under 20’s World Cup team, within a year she was playing at the full World Cup and scoring three goals at the tender age of 17. It was to be the start of her love affair with the tournament, as she’d go on to become the World Cup’s highest goalscorer. At the following tournament in 2007 Marta took the cup by storm, plundering in 7 goals. Brazil came runners up as Marta was awarded the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for the best player. Scoring 4 in the group stages alone, the skill displayed by the Brazilian was breathtaking as she scored a stunning goal against U.S.A in the semi final.
Come the 2011 World Cup Marta would be joint all time top goalscorer (with German Birgit Prinz) despite Brazil crashing out in the quarter finals. In 2015 she finally broke the record with a penalty against South Korea, exactly as her first World Cup goal had been scored 8 years ago. Although Brazil disappointedly left the tournament after losing 1-0 to Australia in the knockout stages.
Her current tally for Brazil is a staggering 92 goals in 95 games, at the age of 29 she also has years left in her to get to triple figures. The only argument against Marta is the fact she is yet to get her hands on the World Cup, something that is also regularly used against Lionel Messi in his quest to become the best ever. Though with Marta’s ridiculous domestic record and skill it’s hard to look past her as being the queen of the Women’s game, it’ll certainly take a lot to knock her off the throne.